New Delhi: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat on Friday kicked up a controversy with his remark that rapes happened in cities and not in the rural areas. "Such crimes hardly take place in Bharat, but they frequently occur in India," Bhagwat said seeming to indicate that "westernization" in Indian cities was the reason behind increasing cases of rapes.
"You go to villages and forests of the country and there will be no such incidents of gangrape or sex crimes. They are prevalent in some urban belts. Besides new legislations, Indian ethos and attitude towards women should be revisited in the context of ancient Indian values," Bhagwat had told a gathering of RSS workers in Silchar, Assam.
The remark follows a similar comment by a MP BJP leader who stated that women who did not stay within their limits, paid the price for it just like Sita was abducted by Ravana after she crossed the 'Lakshman rekha'.
"Ek hi shabd hai - Maryada. Maryada ka ulanghan hota hai, toh Sita-haran ho jata hai. Laxman-rekha har vyakti ki khichi gayi hai. Us Laxman-rekha ko koi bhi par karega, toh Rawan samne baitha hai, woh Sita-haran karke le jayega. (One has to abide by certain moral limits. If you cross this limit you will be punished, just like Sita was abducted by Ravana)," Kailash Vijayvargiya had said.
However, defending Bhagwat, RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said, "The statement should be taken in the right prospective. He has condemned the heinous crime and said that if necessary people who are involved in such kind of act should be hanged to death. He said that in Bhartiya tradition, we have great respect for women and if we go away from the Bhartiya tradition of respecting woman, one will end up in indulging in such criminal acts. There is no need to give other interpretations to his statement."
At a time when major political parties are being forced to run for cover over criticism that they field candidates who face rape charges, such irresponsible remarks against women and their dignity from its party leaders could tarnish the BJP's image.
National Commission for Women chief Mamata Sharma slammed the leaders saying that at a time when the country was trying to push its women towards progress, the politicians were trying to set more limitations upon them.
"I want to request senior leader Mohan Bhagwat to stop citing differences between India and Bharat. We are all Indians staying in this country. Bhagwatji needs to go to the grassroots level and then compare the condition of women in villages and cities," she added.
CPM leader Brinda Karat said, "Mohan Bhagwat doesn't know either India or Bharat. The largest number of rapes occur in rural areas on Dalits, tribals and rural workers. Such statements give confidence to criminals."
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said, "It shows the ideology of Sangh. Women cannot become members of the RSS. There is no difference between India and Bharat."
Congress leader Rashid Masood warned, "We politicians should control over tongues and remember that we too have women at home."
Activist Kiran Bedi said, "Bharat is different from India because Bharat does not have the infrastructure to take the report... of sexual assault, which is why girls continue to suffer."
Congress, Trinamool act against tainted leaders
The Congress on Thursday expelled one of its Assam leaders after he was accused of raping a mother of two.
The Trinamool Congress too suspended its party workers who were caught on camera heckling and throwing currency notes at women dancers at one of their functions.
With inputs from IANS