Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant recently responded to the gang rape of two minor girls on a beach by wondering why they had been out in the first place. In remarks that have since been widely panned, he contended that parents should "introspect" on why their children would spend the night on a beach. Since then, a slew of Opposition leaders as well as ordinary netizens have taken to social media platforms to criticise the Chief Minister's remarks.
"When 14-year-olds stay on the beach the whole night, the parents need to introspect. Just because children don't listen, we cannot put the responsibility on the government and police," he had said on Wednesday.
Sawant, who also holds the home portfolio, had said parents have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their children and hinted that they should not let their children, particularly minors, out at night. While insisting that they "directly blamed police", he added that out of a group of 10, four had opted to remain at the beach the whole night. "Teens, particularly minors, should not be spending the nights on beaches," he opined.
Four men, one of them a government employee (a driver with the agriculture department), posed as policemen and raped the two girls after beating up the boys who were with the girls on Benaulim beach, around 30 km south of Goa's capital, on Sunday. All the four accused have been arrested.
Needless to say, the remarks have not gone down well with many. While some lashed out at the Chief Minister for censuring the victims of a crime, others pointed out that it was the administration's duty to ensure that it was safe for citizens to venture out in public spaces.
"Why should we fear while moving around at night? Criminals should be in jail and law abiding citizens should be out freely moving around," Goa Congress spokesperson Altone D'Costa wanted to know.
"The safety of citizens is the responsibility of police and state government. If they can't provide it to us, the CM has no right to sit in the post," said Goa Forward Party MLA Vijai Sardesai.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala hit out at Sawant for dispensing such "pearls of wisdom". The Chief Minister, he suggested, should "quit and go home".
"It is shocking that Goa CM is blaming parents for allowing their children to venture out in the night claiming that it is not safe. If state government can't assure us our security, who can give it? Goa has a history of being safe state for women, that tag is being lost in BJP rule," tweeted Independent MLA Rohan Khaunte.
"I strongly condemn the statement of Pramod Sawant. So if girls are out in the night, are they inviting men to rape them?? What kind of a sick mindset is that. Instead of maintaining law and order the CM of Goa is blaming the girls!!" read an outraged post from Congress leader Dinesh Gundu Rao.
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