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Fury at Mulayam rape remarks

Mulayam at the rally in Moradabad on Thursday. (PTI)

Lucknow, April 10: Mulayam Singh Yadav today alleged that innocent men were being sentenced to death in false rape cases and asserted that when his party came to power, it would change the new anti-rape law and punish women who make false rape charges.

He also asserted that rapes sometimes happen because “boys make mistakes”.

“Rape ke liye phaansi dena galat hai; ladkon se galti ho jaata hai; hum satta mein aaye to kanoon mein badlav karenge (It’s wrong to hang people for rape; boys make mistakes; if we come to power we shall make changes to the law),” the Samajwadi Party chief told a rally in Moradabad.

“Often boys and girls have differences although they may be in a live-in relationship. The girl makes a false statement saying she has been raped…” Mulayam had begun before appearing to switch the context.

“And then, poor fellows, three of them were sentenced to death…” he added.

The veteran politician seemed to be referring to the Shakti Mills double gang rape in Mumbai that led to three repeat offenders being sentenced to hang this month.

“Should rape cases be punished with death? Two or three were sentenced to death…. We will change such laws. We will make a provision for punishing those making false statements,” he said.

Last year’s criminal law amendment, following the furore over the brutal December 2012 bus gang rape in Delhi, brought in the provision for repeat rapists being punished by death or with a life term. The Shakti Mills trio are the only rapists sentenced in India to hang despite their victims being alive.

S.D. Hasan, the Samajwadi candidate for whom Mulayam was campaigning and who was present on the dais, said Mulayam was expressing “his genuine sense of anger at men being implicated in false rape cases and awarded the death sentence”.

He struggled to explain the context of his leader’s outburst.

“He (Mulayam) was speaking about his commitment to farmers and Muslims. He was telling us that a leader like Narendra Modi should not become Prime Minister. He was speaking about justice for all and, in this context, took up the defence of innocent men implicated in rape,” Hasan said.

But Bhukkal Nawab, a Samajwadi MLC, told reporters: “Mulayam Yadav is expressing anger because Muslim youths are being falsely implicated in rape cases.”

The Samajwadi election manifesto, released on April 2, had alleged “large-scale misuse of... (the) new anti-rape law that came into existence after (the) ‘Nirbhaya’ rape case”.

But it had added: “We are in favour of implementing the new law strictly and at the same time will initiate strict action against those misusing them.”

Women’s activist Ranjana Kumari said the Election Commission should take cognisance of Mulayam’s remarks, lodge an FIR and arrest him, for “calling rape a small mistake is directly encouraging rape”, a PTI report said.

The agency quoted former National Commission for Women chairperson Poornima Advani as saying: “A public apology is the least. The Election Commission should take up this matter. This is a negative and useless election stunt that is going to hit him (Mulayam) hard.”

The Congress said Mulayam’s remarks were “unfortunate”.

The BJP’s Subramanian Swamy accused the Samajwadi leader of playing “minority politics” against the backdrop of the recent Muzaffarnagar riots in which many women were allegedly raped, PTI added.

After television aired Mulayam’s remarks, the Samajwadi chief became a target of attacks on the Internet.