In a state increasingly gaining notoriety for high number of rape cases, its former chief minister and leader of Opposition Om Prakash Chautala on Wednesday offered an arguably appalling solution to check the rising incidents of crime against women: lower the marriageable age of girls to 16 years.
The veteran Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader, an ally of the NDA, echoed similar sentiments as expressed by the all-powerful Khap panchayats in Haryana in this regard a couple of days ago.
Chautala’s contentious statement comes at a time when Haryana is grappling with a spate of rape cases. In the last one month, 14 rape cases, including those of minor and Dalit girls, have shocked the nation. Even on Wednesday, a Dalit Girl was raped in Haryana’s Kaithal district.
The statements of Khap panchayats leaders, and now Chautala, have drawn flak from various quarters. If Chautala’s statement has invited criticism, the opinion of the president of the Haryana Congress, Phool Chand Mullana, is no less horrendous. Mullana said he sees a conspiracy in these rape incidents.
Walking out of the Haryana Raj Bhawan on Wednesday after submitting a memorandum to Governor Jagannath Pahadia against increasing instances of rapes in the state, Chautala minced no words supporting the Khaps on this issue. “I am with them on the issue. This will protect women,” he stated.