Sirsa, Haryana: Haryana Minister Shiv Charan Sharma was at the centre of a controversy after calling suicide victim Geetika Sharma a "servant" of his former ministerial colleague Gopal Kanda who is the prime accused in the case.
Mr Sharma, the Minister for Labour and Employment who also said that the case in which Kanda has been booked is not "such a big" one, came under fire on Tuesday from BJP and women's bodies who described the remark as insensitive, insulting and shameful. Geetika's brother Ankit demanded an apology from the minister.
"This isn't such a big case. He (Kanda) appointed her (Geetika) as a servant by mistake," Mr Sharma, a Congress leader, said referring to the Geetika suicide case while participating in jailed Kanda's birthday celebrations organised by his supporters in Sirsa on December 29. Geetika was an employee of the now defunct MDLR airline owned by Kanda.
23-year-old Geetika was found dead on August 5 at her Ashok Vihar residence in northwest Delhi. In one of her suicide notes, the woman said she was ending her life due to "harassment" by Kanda and his aide Aruna Chaddha,a co-accused.
"His birthday is being celebrated in jail and in Delhi also. Gopal Kanda is always amongst us. He doesn't get afraid of anything. He doesn't fear anyone," Mr Sharma said.
Mr Sharma later sought to downplay the controversy saying the Kanda case is in the court.
"I respect the court and court will decide whether he is a convict or not. If he has committed a crime, court will charge him otherwise he will be released. CBI is investigating the case. Within few days we will get the result of the investigation," he added.
BJP's Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi slammed Mr Sharma calling his remark unfortunate and warned that people's anger will rise because of such "insensitive" comments.
Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said the party will talk to Mr Sharma since he was not aware of the remark but stressed that political leaders should make comments very carefully.
"He is insulting the girl (Geetika) by calling him Kanda's servant. Question should be asked from him why the girl committed suicide," said National Commission for Women (NCW) Chief Mamata Sharma.
BJP's Smriti Irani said the remark was extremely condemnable, especially when the atmosphere was charged after the death of the 23-year old Delhi gang-rape victim.
Mr Sharma had also said Kanda is a brave and honest person who has been falsely implicated by those who are jealous of his "phenomenal" growth in life.