'Wife-beating' quip roils CRPF boss

CRPF director-general K. Durga Prasad was today roasted by women's organisations and social media users who accused him of denigrating women by referring to "wife beating" while answering a question on Kashmir.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 10.08.16
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Women protest against the killing of civilians and use of pellet guns in Srinagar. (PTI)

New Delhi, Aug. 9: CRPF director-general K. Durga Prasad was today roasted by women's organisations and social media users who accused him of denigrating women by referring to "wife beating" while answering a question on Kashmir.

In an interview published today in the Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar, the CRPF chief was asked when his force might stop using pellet guns, which have blinded over 100 protesters in Kashmir during the past one month's unrest.

"When will these guns stop? Is there any pressure from the government?" the interviewer asked.

"This is like asking, 'When will you stop beating your wife?' or 'Have you stopped beating your wife?'" Prasad replied. "We are tackling unruly crowds. There's no such pressure."

He then referred to the committee formed to find an alternative to pellet guns, a promise Union home minister Rajnath Singh had made in Parliament.

The question "Have you stopped beating your wife?" is a textbook example of a "loaded question" or "complex question fallacy", which carries a presupposition that may be false but traps the interviewee into unwittingly affirming it, to his own disadvantage.

In the example used, whether the person answering says "yes" or "no", it would imply he did beat his wife in the past.

Interviewees often refer to this example to protest they have been asked an unfair question, incidentally also implying that wife-beating is a grievous charge.

It's not clear whether Prasad used the example to suggest the interviewer was prematurely assuming the pellet guns would be junked. Many, however, accused him of justifying wife-beating by comparing it with firing pellet guns, which his force has been doing.

Prasad apologised in a media statement and a tweet. He said: "I did not mean to offend women or denigrate the dignity of women in any manner. I realise that my words were inappropriate. I apologise for the same."

A government official said Prasad had been asked to explain his "insensitive" remark to the home secretary.

Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association, said Prasad's "analogy exposes two things: the patriarchal structure of the state machinery and the government's attitude towards Kashmir".

"Wife-beating is clearly quite normal in Prasad's worldview, as is the brutalisation of Kashmiri protestors," she said, adding that the women's commission should issue a notice to Prasad.

A retired CRPF director-general, who didn't want to be named, said Prasad had "rendered himself unfit to hold this office" with his "irresponsible and insensitive comment".

Many on social media called Prasad's statement "shameful". A tweet said: "CRPF DG mocks the use of pellets & wife beating. Sad mindset to have when you hold such a sensitive post."

Prasad, a 1981-batch IPS officer from the Andhra Pradesh cadre, had taken over charge of the CRPF in January 2015.

He had earlier been removed as chief of the Special Protection Group in November 2014 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's wife Jashodaben alleged she was "frightened by the presence" of the commandos guarding her.