Jind (Haryana): Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday met the family of a Dalit teenaged girl, who immolated herself after being allegedly gang-raped in this district, and said perpetrators of such "barbaric" crimes must be severely punished.
She said those guilty of such heinous crimes, which take place not only in Haryana but elsewhere too, must be "severely punished".
"Doshiyoon ko sakt saza milnee chaiyehein (the guilty must be severely punished)," Sonia told reporters in a brief interaction at village Sachha Khera, where she met the victim`s family and assured them of all possible help.
After reaching the village in her cavalcade crossing narrow lanes, Sonia when asked to comment on the growing number of such cases in Haryana in the recent past, said such acts were condemnable.
She was accompanied by Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Union Minister Kumari Selja, Haryana Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala and Congress MP from Sirsa, Ashok Tanwar.
When asked to comment on some Khap Panchayat or caste council leaders in Haryana suggesting that marriageable age for girls should be reduced to 16 as this will help in curbing the increasing instances of rapes in the state, the UPA chairperson rejected it.
"We have a democratic system here, we have (an independent) judiciary...Law is in the hands of judiciary, nobody else," she said.
The Haryana government has drawn flak from all quarters, particularly the opposition, for its alleged failure to prevent incidents of crime against women.
The 16-year-old girl had sprinkled kerosene and immolated herself after allegedly being gang-raped by two youths in Narwana sub-division of the district.
The victim had breathed her last at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences at Rohtak, where she was rushed to from Narwana Civil hospital here with 90 per cent burn injuries on Saturday.
The Jind rape was the 12th incident within a span of about a month in Haryana and the third in this district alone.