Congress seeks HC-monitored probe into Naliya gang-rape case

New Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS) The Congress on Tuesday demanded that a sitting judge under the supervision of the high court investigate the Naliya gang rape case, allegedly involving BJP leaders from Kutch, and questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on the issue.

“The BJP, which used ‘Nirbhaya case’ as a plank to come to power, is in the dock over women’s safety. The Modi government has completed half its term but women’s security situation in Gujarat has become so bad that women there need to be saved from the BJP leaders only,” said Shobha Oza, Chairperson, All India Mahila Congress.

“While talking about zero tolerance, the Prime Minister has awarded a ministerial berth to rape accused Nihal Chand,” she alleged.

A 24-year-old woman from Kutch had filed an FIR in Naliya town last month, alleging she had been raped repeatedly by nine persons, including four local BJP office-bearers, since last year.

The Gujarat assembly budget session on Monday saw pandemonium by opposition members over the alleged gang-rape, forcing Governor O.P. Kohli to cut short his customary opening address.

Oza also led the protest in front of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters here against the party leaders’ alleged involvement in the sex scandal in Gujarat.

“Why has the Prime Minister maintained a stoic silence on the issue of ‘Naliya BJP sex scandal’ of Kutch? The slogan of ‘Beti Bachao’ is simply a hollow one and the BJP and the RSS leaders have become exploiters of women in the country,” said Oza.

“The sex scandal of Naliya has unmasked the real ‘chaal, charitra and chehra’ (character) of BJP,” she added.

Oza maintained that the Naliya incident of “women molestation was not limited to just BJP and RSS workers but also linked to other top leaders, which include leaders of Gujarat and also other BJP-ruled states”.

“They are trying their best to threaten, blackmail and even lure the victim’s family. They are also trying to malign the victim’s character,” she said.

She also said that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data reveals that the BJP-ruled states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra have high rates of violence against women.

“The past record of Gujarat government has proved that SIT investigation is a mere lip-service to save the real culprits. In this context, we want to ask why this shameful incident is not being investigated by a sitting judge under the supervision of high court?” Oza added.

“Why is Modiji not ready for investigation of such incidents which took place in Gujarat, Assam and other BJP-ruled states? Will Modiji take responsibility of the safety and security of the victim and her family?” she said.

On the question of rape charges against some Congress leaders in Bihar and Jammu and Kashmir, including current state PCC chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir, who was later acquitted, Oza said: “The law should take its own course. If he (Mir) was later set free, then it must have been on the basis of law.”

“The guilty should not be protected or go scot-free. We are saying that probe should be done taking into account what the victim wants. A person is found guilty only after probe. Once they are found guilty, then they are expelled from the party as well. Our party doesn’t want to protect anyone,” she added.

Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson and MP Sushmita Dev put the onus on the Prime Minister to investigate such matters across the country.

“We are not going to protect anyone. The question is whether PM Modi will probe in such matters in all the states. We can promise that there will be no political interference from our side,” said Dev

“In Jammu and Kashmir too they (BJP) have got their government. Even if there were some mistakes from our side, then they should investigate the matter as they are in the government. Congress will not condone any kind of criminal activity. The onus of good governance is now on the PM of the country,” she added.