As Haryana witnessed another rape -- the 15th in a month, Former Chief Minister Om Parkash Chautala on Wednesday backed the idea of Khap panchayats to marry of girls early to curb such crimes, citing a Mughal era practice.
"Look back at the past, the Mughal sultanate in this country used to misbehave with women and used to kidnap them. In order to prevent that people started getting their young girls married early so that no one does anything wrong to them," the opposition INLD leader said.
"...currently a similar situation is arising in the state. I think that's the reason khap has taken such a decision and I support it."
Chautala made these remarks when asked by newsmen to respond to Khap panchayats' controversial suggestion after he submitted a memorandum to Governor Jagannath Pahadia over recent cases of rape in Haryana.
He also slammed the Congress government in Haryana for the "worsening" law and order situation in the state.
Following a rise in cases of rape in Haryana, Khap panchayats had suggested doing away with the marriageable age limit, claiming it will check such crimes.
"Boys and girls should be married by the time they turn 16, so that they do not stray... this will decrease the incidents of rape," Sube Singh, a Khap representative had said.
Congress sought to defend Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, saying he is "not sitting with hands tied".
Asked as to why the Haryana administration was unable to check the rising incidents of rape, Chowdhary told reporters, "....There is an issue in society. All over the world, crime is rising.... It is a challenge.
"The Chief Minister is not sitting with his hands tied. It is an unfair accusation. He is seized of it and he will deal with the matter."
A 19-year-old Dalit girl, said to be five months pregnant, alleged she was abducted and raped by two youths in Kalyat area of Katihal district yesterday even as police said a probe showed she had made a telephone call to one of her rapists in the wee hours. The youths have been arrested in the rape incident, the 15th within a month.
Centre monitoring situation
In the wake of several incidents of rape in Haryana, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Wednesday said the Central government was constantly monitoring the situation there but it was the responsibility of the state government to check such crimes.
"We are constantly monitoring it. You know that due to the Constitution we can't interfere. We have to be careful. State government has more responsibility," he said at a press conference here.
Shinde said UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi had met family members of one of the rape victims yesterday in a Haryana village and efforts were being made to stop such crimes.
"It is a very sad matter that such atrocities are being committed against Dalits. We are discussing how to take strict measures. Our people have spoken to the DGP and I will also speak to the Chief Minister," he said.
Asked about activities of Khap panchayats in Haryana, which often issue diktats to society members on different issues, the Home Minister said, "In India, we have to abide by the Indian law."
On the allegations of withdrawal of security cover to some Congress leaders in Punjab, Shinde said security should be given those whose threat perception was high.
"I have written to Uttar Pradesh (government), I have written to Punjab (government). It is the responsibility of both state and the Central governments to provide security to those whose threat perception is high," he said.
On the investigation into the August 1 Pune blast, he said, "We have gone ahead and we would be successful in Pune investigation. There is progress but I do not want to disclose because we are still waiting for 2-3 persons."