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Sinha targets Modi, flags India's 'shame'

Yashwant Sinha

New Delhi: Former Union minister and dissident BJP veteran Yashwant Sinha on Friday questioned the Prime Minister's silence on the Unnao and Kathua gang rapes, speaking shortly before Narendra Modi referred to the two crimes at an event.

Sinha was at the site of a protest by Delhi women's commission chairperson Swati Maliwal, who began an indefinite hunger strike on Friday over several demands for women's safety, including death for child rapists within six months of the crime.

He said this was the second time after the bus gang rape in Delhi in December 2012 that he was feeling "ashamed of my citizenship". He narrated an experience he had had in Germany after delivering a talk on the Indian economy, sometime after the 2012 brutality.

"When I completed my speech, the first question from the Germans present was about why and how the Nirbhaya rape happened. We can't imagine how badly the country is defamed," he said.

" The New York Times has published news on this (Kathua) and India is becoming known to the world as a rape headquarters. It's the limit of evil; it seems like our society is filled with cruelty... and that humanity is dead within us."

He added: "Our PM is silent. Even an expression of sympathy has not come. What is happening in Jammu (where an eight-year-old Muslim girl was gang-raped and killed in Kathua) is a matter of shame. There is an attempt to give it a communal colour and save the culprits."

Sinha, who has formed the Rashtra Manch - a forum where government policies can be criticised and one that has attracted Opposition speakers too - condemned the Congress as well.

"The main parties are involved: BJP people are involved and Congress people are involved," he said, alluding to the presence of state Congress leaders among the lawyers who tried to obstruct the prosecution of the Kathua accused.

"If there is any morality left in the Congress and the BJP, they should immediately act against those involved in Kathua, (but they) are trying to save the culprits. If this action is not taken in 24 hours, then doing candle marches or anything else is not going to have any impact."

After Modi's speech on Friday evening, Maliwal tweeted: "Sir, it doesn't take courage to speak from the Red Fort. Courage was shown by the daughter and father of Unnao who fought against rape and sacrificed a life. It is fine for NGOs to speak about social values, let the PM say what action will he take."

The Aam Aadmi Party, which appointed Maliwal, has called for a siege of the Prime Minister's bungalow on Sunday. Student groups have announced they will picket ministers at Ambedkar Jayanti events on Saturday.

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