Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava
New Delhi: National Conference chief and Union Minister Farooq Abdullah on Friday triggered a fresh row by commenting that the situation in the society is so bad that he is afraid of speaking to women these days.
"The incident of rapes and sexual assault on women have risen so much that I am scared of speaking to women these days," the NC chief said, adding, "You never know what lands you in jail today."
"That`s the reason why I don’t even think of keeping a woman secretary, "Abdullah said.
Farooq Abdullah made these remarks while reacting to the sexual harassment allegations against retired apex court justice AK Ganguly, who had been indicted by a Supreme Court panel.
Abdullah`s sexist comment has drawn sharp reactions from women leaders who criticised the NC chief for his controversial statement that hiring female personal secretaries can land one in jail if there is any complaint of sexual harassment.
"In our Constitution, both the genders have equal rights but so far, women have been living in fear. If someone thinks so, that mindset should be changed," Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath told reporters outside Parliament.
BJP leader Smriti Irani expressed surprise over Abdullah`s remarks and said it was "inappropriate" for a senior Minister to make a statement that indicates that "women can be hired and called upon favorably and they can be demeaned at workplace."
Irani said people should understand that it is a very sensitive issue and should not give an indication "that if a women speaks about her rights at work place that is a sign of danger."
CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat said it was "irresponsible for such a senior Minister to say such a thing when the country is shocked that men in higher office use their offices to make unwelcome sexual advances."
Karat said a statement like this implies that women should not make complaints against sexual harassment and if she does, she will be unemployable.
"The other implication is that all these are false charges. It is highly inappropriate and he should withdraw his statement immediately," Karat demanded.
Importantly, J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today expressed regret over his father`s controversial remark by saying that he should apologise for the same.
Shortly after that Farooq Abdullah apologised saying, "If I have hurt anyone`s sentiment, I apologise."
Farooq Abdullah had triggered controversies at several occasions in past too. He recently said that even if Narendra Modi becomes Prime Minister for "ten terms" he will not be able to repeal Article 370 of the Constitution.
Sometimes back, he had said that one can get a full meal in just Rs 1.