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Jaitley on the backfoot after ‘small-rape’ comment

New Delhi, Aug 22 (PTI): Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, under attack from various quarters over his “small rape” remark at the annual meeting of tourism ministers here on Thursday, stressed that he had not referred to any particular case and that he had no intention of trivialising any crime.

”I regret that the statement has been construed or some word that I have used have been construed as insensitive. That was never my intention,” he said in his clarification.

On Thursday, at the tourism ministers meet, he had said that “one small incident” of rape in Delhi had grabbed the world’s attention and cost India millions of tourist dollars.

Though he had not specified any incident, his remarks were seen as a reference to the rape and brutal assault of a 23-year-old paramedic woman on December 16, 2012, in the capital. The rape, and the woman’s subsequent death in hospital, had outraged the entire country and sparked protests.

Jaitley said he has always been outspoken on issues relating to crimes, particularly those against women.

”I am very sensitive to these issues myself and there is no question of trivialising any crime or any particular incident. I had not referred to any particular incident,” he said.

The minister said he had spoken “in general” on how crime can hurt tourism and the image of crime against women itself dissuades tourists from coming to India.

Criticising Jaitley's remarks, the mother of the Delhi rape victim said “He has disappointed me. During elections they had used Nirbhaya's name for political gains and after coming into power they call it a small incident.” The rape victim was given the name Nirbhaya by a section of the media.

Her father said, “We are deeply hurt by what he has said. No rape is small, each rape incident is shameful for a country and when public figures and politicians make such statements it looks so insensitive. They should remember that when they speak, not only our country but the whole world listens.”

Congress leader Rashid Alvi termed as “most unfortunate” the remarks and said such statements reveal the thinking of the government.

”If any girl of the nation is raped, it is a blot on the nation. If a minister terms it as a small incident, that is most unfortunate. This shows the thinking of the government,” he said.

Member of National Commission of Women (NCW) Nirmala Sawant said, “It is wrong from the part of a minister to make such remarks and compare how such crime can hurt country's economy. His remark is very unfortunate. I condemn it.”

Congress' students wing NSU-I also strongly condemned the statement of Jaitley.

”We wish to ask him what in his case a small rape is and what is a big rape? It is sad and pathetic to have our representatives make such insensitive remarks. As a country we deserve more sensitive and rational leaders,” NSU-I leader Amrish Ranjan Pandey said.


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