The comments triggered outcry from the opposition, who have demanded Pramod Sawant’s resignation and said Goa has become more dangerous for women under BJP rule
Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant – under pressure after the gang-rape of two minor girls, and an attack on two minor boys last week – has now been slammed for blaming the survivors and their parents, and appearing to absolve his government and the police of any responsibility.
In utterly shocking comments made in the Assembly yesterday, Mr Sawant blamed the parents for allowing their children to step out – they were on a beach 30 km from capital Panaji – late at night
“When 14-year-old children stay on the beach the whole night, the parents need to introspect. Just because children don’t listen, we cannot put the responsibility on the government and police,” the Chief Minister, who also heads the Home Ministry, declared.
Mr Sawant said it was the parents’ duty to ensure the safety of their children, and that the girls should not have been allowed to leave home at night, particularly as they are minors.
“We blame the police… but I want to point out that of the 10 youth who went to the beach for a party, four stayed on the beach the whole night… two boys and two girls. Teens, particularly minors, should not be spending the nights on beaches,” he said.
The comments have triggered furious outcry from opposition leaders, some of whom demanded Mr Sawant’s resignation and claimed Goa had become more dangerous for women under BJP rule.
Senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala lashed out, tweeting: “And Chief Minister should quit and go home for such preposterous ‘pearls of wisdom’!”
Goa Congress spokesperson Altone D’Costa said the law and order in the state had deteriorated. “Why should we fear while moving around at night? Criminals should be in jail and law-abiding citizens should be out freely moving around,” Mr D’Costa said.
Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi called it “sick and brazen abdication of responsibility”, tweeting: “‘When 14-year-olds stay on the beach the whole night, the parents need to introspect’ – Goa Chief Minister on gang rape on Goa Beach. This is sick and brazen abdication of responsibility to keep Goa safe. Shameless.”
Goa Forward Party chief Vijai Sardesai, who this week announced an alliance with the Congress for next year’s election, called the Chief Minister’s remark “disgusting”.
“The safety of citizens is the responsibility of the police and state government. If they can’t provide it, the Chief Minister has no right to sit in the post,” Mr Sardesai said.
Mr Sardesai’s party had walked out of the BJP-led NDA in April, citing its “anti-Goan policies”.
“It is shocking that the Goa Chief Minister is blaming parents for allowing their children to venture out in the night… claiming that it is not safe. If the state government can’t assure us our security, who can? Goa has a history of being safe for women… that tag is being lost in BJP rule,” Rohan Khaunte, an independent MLA, tweeted.
Four men – one a government employee – posed as policemen and raped the two girls after beating up the boys. The attack took place on Benaulim beach.
All four accused have been arrested.
During the discussion in the Assembly on Wednesday, one MLA claimed an “influential person” was trying to protect the accused. Another alleged a minister was trying to influence the investigation.
Speaker Rajesh Patnekar expunged both remarks from the proceedings.