Bengal minister criticises Hema Malini over Vrindavan widows

Taking a dig at BJP MP Hema Malini for saying that widows from West Bengal and Bihar should not crowd Vrindavan, a West Bengal minister on Saturday said it is the personal choice of an individual where he or she wants to live.

Kolkata: Taking a dig at BJP MP Hema Malini for saying that widows from West Bengal and Bihar should not crowd Vrindavan, a West Bengal minister on Saturday said it is the personal choice of an individual where he or she wants to live.

"Going to Vrindavan is a part of our culture. It is the personal choice of an individual as to where he or she wants to live. Even I may want to go to Vrindavan," state Minister of Women and Child Welfare Shashi Panja told reporters here today when her reaction was sought on Hema Malini's recent controversial remarks on Vrindavan widows.

"No I don't agree with her at all. Everyone has the prerogative to choose his/her place of stay wherever he/she feels happy. We are all at liberty to do so," Panja said after meeting a group of widows from Vrindavan who are here to celebrate Durga Puja as part of a process to bring them into the mainstream.

Hema had also said that responsibility of looking after widows should be of states from where they hail.

"But the question here is whether these women need our help. If our help is sought we will extend help," Panja said.

NGO Sulabh International is looking after 1,000 Vrindavan widows as part of a Supreme Court directive to remove the stigma attached to their lives.

On a week-long tour the widows took a tram ride and visited some of the city's landmarks.

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