Chandigarh: A Haryana minister has sparked controversy as she said the increasing number of rape cases were a 'conspiracy' against the north Indian state.
Social Welfare, Education, and Women and Child Welfare Minister Geeta Bhukkal on Friday said: "I believe that the manner in which the statistics on rapes have been projected for Haryana, it is a conspiracy against the state."
She said 'such incidents' are also occurring in other Indian states including Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Congress spokesperson Dharamvir Goyat and Indian National Lok Dal President Om Prakash Chautala earlier triggered controversy by making remarks on the rape incidents in Haryana.
Goyat on Thursday said that ninety percent of the rape cases in Haryana were consensual.
"I have no hesitation in saying that 90 per cent of the girls want to have sex intentionally. However, they do not know that they would be gangraped as they find some lusty people in the way ahead," Congress spokesperson Dharamvir Goyat told media.
Chautala on the other hand backed the opinion given by a Khap Panchayat to marry off girls early to prevent rape incidents in Haryana.
"One should learn from the past. In the Mughal era people used to marry off their small girls at an early age in order to save them from Mughal atrocities. A similar situation is currently arising in the state," Chautala told reporters on Wednesday.
Chautala on Thursday defended his comments and said said he did not support the suggestions made by a Khap Panchayat.
"I am not supporting the decision of Khaps. If any Khap has given any suggestion on girl's marriage then the government should consider the matter," Chautala told media.
"We do not support or condemn anyone's statements," he said.
"The Khap has made a suggestion. Now, it is up to the Haryana government to decide if they want to go forward with it," Chautala said.
A Khap Panchayat in Haryana reportedly said marriageable age for girls should be decreased to 16 for reducing rape cases in the north Indian state.
Khap Panchayat is a council of village elders who exercise significant amount of control over social norms and traditions in Indian villages.
Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday met the family members of a Dalit girl, who committed suicide after being gangraped, in Jind district of Haryana.
"I condemn these horrifying acts of rape...The accused should be severely punished," she said.
She also rejected the recommendations of the Khap Panchayat on the issue of marriage saying 'the law is in the hands of the judiciary'.
"We have a democratic system here. We have a judiciary. The law is in the hands of the judiciary and nobody else," Gandhi told reporters on Tuesday.
Several rape cases have incidents have occurred in the state in the past one month.