Gaffe master Shinde. Oops! I withdraw my statement

By Kamna Arora | Updated: Mar 03, 2013, 09:02 AM IST

The government claims that it is sensitive towards rape victims. It creates a Rs 1,000 crore fund for women and makes provision for an all-women’s bank in Union Budget 2013-14. And the very next day, its Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde reveals the identity of three Maharashtra rape victims in the Rajya Sabha. Quite outrageous, seriously.

Even though the Rajya Sabha expunged names of the rape victims from Shinde`s statement, his ministry had carelessly circulated it to the media through a press release with the names intact. It took the ministry an hour to withdraw the original press release and issue a revised one. Will withdrawing the statement undo the harm, Mr Minister?

In Maharashtra’s Bhandara district, three minor sisters were kidnapped, raped and murdered on February 14. They were aged, respectively, 6, 9, and 11. Their bodies were found in a well on February 17. Already the state police have exhibited their incapability in catching the perpetrator/s. Rubbing salt into the wound was the Home Minister’s lackadaisical statement in which he revealed the identities of the victims of the gruesome incident. Notably, naming rape victims/survivors is prohibited by the law.

During the hue and cry over Delhi gang-rape last year, Shinde had tried to make an emotional appeal by saying he was the father of three daughters. Where was his compassion and sympathy when he blindly read the written statement on Bhandara incident handed over to him?

How can a minister make such a regrettable mistake? What was more annoying and shocking was the fact that Shidne did not even realise what he has done until Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley pointed it out. The faux pas was not noticed by any of the Parliamentarians during the debate. Thanks Mr Jaitley for making a note of it.

The official in the Ministry of Home Affairs, who had prepared the statement, must have been reprimanded. But what about the inept, slipshod approach of Shinde? He cannot pass the blame onto anyone.

Sadly Shinde cannot be penalised for the mistake he committed. He escapes legal censure because of the immunity enjoyed by a Member of Parliament for what he/she says on the floor of the legislature.

Last month, the Punjab police drew flak from all quarters for revealing a gang-rape victim’s name in a press note. We talk about sensitising police while dealing with rape victims, but what about our leaders. This goof-up of his shows inconsiderate approach and insensitivity of our leaders towards shameful rise of crimes against women in our country.

When will these leaders stop embarrassing our countrymen?