[QODLink]
Central & South Asia

Indian MP apologises for rape remarks

Tapas Pal, Member of Parliament from West Bengal state, has described his comments as "gross error of judgement.

Last updated: 01 Jul 2014 21:01
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Tapas Pal's comments drew widespread condemnation, with calls for his resignation [AFP]

An Indian politician has apologised after he was captured on video threatening the rape of his political rivals, in what he said was "a gross error of judgement".

Tapas Pal of the regional All India Trinamool Congress Party admitted his remarks had caused "dismay and consternation" on Tuesday after initially denying he had made the rape comment.

"I have no excuses to offer. It was a gross error of judgement and deeply insensitive," Pal, 55, said in a statement.
"It should not have happened. And I assure you it will not happen again," he said.

Amid widespread outrage in India over a series of recent high-profile rapes, Pal could be clearly heard bragging of his ability to order attacks against his left-wing opponents.

"If CPI-M (Communist Party of India - Marxist) tries to kill and intimidate our workers... I will not spare them. I will let loose my men to rape your women," he said in an address to followers in late May which was filmed on a phone.

His comments drew widespread condemnation, including from Trinamool which is the fourth largest party in parliament and whose support is concentrated in the state of West Bengal.

"We do not in any way endorse what he said," party spokesman Derek O'Brien told reporters, adding that party leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was "hopping mad" about the remarks.

Wife objects

Pal, who is also a minor film star in the Kolkata-based movie industry, tried to limit the damage by claiming he had been misquoted.

"I never said rape. I said raid. I said they should raid all the people and places, including women and old," he told CNN-IBN TV channel earlier on Tuesday.

However even his own wife Nandini said the politician was out of line.

"I feel terrible about it. Whatever he has said, it is not right being a member of the parliament," she told reporters in Kolkata.

The head of the National Commission for Women said Pal's position was now untenable.

"He should resign. This is a very unfortunate statement," said the commission's head Mamata Sharma.

"Mamata Banerjee should take action against him - he should be suspended."

Brinda Karat, a leader from the communist party, told reporters that the comments were "completely unacceptable" and Pal "must be suspended" from the Lok Sabha, India's lower House of parliament.

India brought in tougher laws last year against sex offenders after the fatal gang-rape of a student in New Delhi in December 2012, but the laws have have failed to stem the tide of violence against women across the country.

In May, two girls aged 12 and 14 were found hanging from a mango tree in the state of Uttar Pradesh. They had been abducted and gang-raped.

459

Source:
AFP
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.