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Mar 01, 2013 at 04:10pm IST

Bhandara rape: Shinde withdraws statement naming three victims

New Delhi: There was outrage in Parliament on Friday over the Bhandara rape and murder case as Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde's written statement issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs mentioned the three victims' names. However, Shinde later withdrew the statement and said, "I have withdrawn my statement. Even the Rajya Sabha Deputy Speaker has also expunged the statement.I have also asked the secretary to inquire this matter. Please let the matter rest now."

Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley pointed out the faux pas made by the ministry after the Union Minister finished his speech. "The identity of the victim is never disclosed. But the Home Minister has disclosed the names of the victims in his statement. I ask the Home Minister to take back his statement," said Jaitley.

ALSO SEE Bhandara rape case is deeply shocking, police conducting investigations: Shinde

However, Union Minister Salman Khurshid came to Shinde's defence and said, "I think what happened was clearly something that the Home Minisrty doesn't want to insist upon and very graciously he withdrew. So I don't there should be any issue on it at all."

CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, too, said the three minor victims should not have been named. "It is very unfortunate and shocking, it should not have happen," said Yechury.

ALSO SEE Bhandara rape: Medical analysis fails to give cause of death

Meanwhile, Shinde defended the police for the delay in making headway in the case after two weeks in Rajya Sabha. MPs criticised police failure and demanded a speedy justice for the victims after Shinde made a statement in the House.

This raises some big questions:

- Even when corrected by Arun Jaitley, why did Shinde ask him to explain again?

- Why is the Home Minister so ignorant of the law?

- As an ex-policeman, shouldn't Shinde have been aware of the law?

- Why did the MHA release statement with names even after being expunged?

- Is Shinde passing the buck by ordering a probe into his own department?

The Opposition slammed the government for inaction asking if only the suspension of a police inspector is enough. BJP MP Smriti Irani slammed the statement made by the Union Minister and said, "Why is that the Chief Minister of Maharashtra has not been able to name the chairperson of women Commission in the state. Is mere suspension of a PI enough? What is the responsibility of the police officers who have not acted on such cases. The mother and the grandmother of the three girls were made to wait at the police station till 1:30 in the night. And the police action started only after the matter was raised in media and there was an outrage that little action was taken. The police did not act at all."

Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Shinde defended the police claiming they acted promptly. Shinde in his statement said, "I am deeply shocked and upset by the brutal murder. The investigation is underway and a cop was sacked for not taking prompt action on receiving the complaint."

But it has been 15 days since the rape and murder of the three minor sisters from Bhandara district in Maharashtra and no arrests have been made yet.

Members of the National Commission for Women (NCW) were in Bhandara on Thursday and met the victims' mother. NCW member Nirmala Samant criticised the police for being insensitive and clueless.

The three sisters aged 6, 8 and 11 had gone missing on the afternoon of February 14. Their bodies were found in a well barely two kilometres from their house on February 16. Preliminary post-mortem had confirmed that the girls were raped before being murdered. Two weeks later, the police has more questions than answers.

The girls were neither strangled to death, nor were they poisoned. Even the medical analysis so far has failed to pin point the exact cause of death. According to some villagers, they were last seen in a Maruti van. But the Police still have no clue who was in it and to whom it belonged.

Eight youngsters from a nearby village were under the scanner but even they have been ruled out after a thorough interrogation. More than 150 people have already been questioned and innumerable examinations of the well where the bodies were dumped have yielded no answers. For the bereaved mother of the victims, the trauma continues unabated.