BY NAYANI DE SILVA
The extreme right wing political party Shiv Sena has claimed that rape accusations are “good weapons to seek personal revenge”.
Shiv Sena, which is closely allied with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, has defended the Deputy Inspector General of Police Sunil Paraskar after he was accused of raping a Mumbai based model over a three-month period.
The Shiv Sena owned Indian newspaper Saamna reported a party spokesman saying: “After he has served for so many years in the police force, one model now charges rape … in one night he becomes a villain.”
The alleged victim, who cannot be identified, refused to respond to the criticism, saying the matter was before the courts. ”No one should be commenting in sensitive matters like this without knowing all the facts,” she said.
Right wing Indian politicians are notorious for prompting violent uproars and controversies. In one incident, a Shiv Sena MP aggressively force-fed a Muslim man during the fasting holiday of Ramadan because he was unsatisfied with the food at a government canteen. A video of the incident was then posted on YouTube (warning: graphic content).
Indian courts “need to open their eyes” to the prospect of false accusations, Shiv Sena politicians told Saamna. One male politician said: “All the laws in the country favour women, so anyone can slap any charge against anyone.”
Other political parties and women’s rights groups reacted strongly to the party’s statements. In a TV interview for IBN, Uttar Pradesh Congress Leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi demanded an apology from Shiv Sena, and said questioning a rape claim was “against a woman’s dignity”. Women’s activist Abha Singh told Asian News International that Shiv Sena using Saamna to accuse women of attempting to attract attention by falsely accusing a man of rape was wrong and is prohibited under certain laws protecting an alleged victim of rape from character assassination.
However, Aaditya Thackeray the head of Shiv Sena’s youth wing and the son of the party’s chairman, defended the editorial piece in Saamna in a tweet:
The edit is a comprehensive argument on why “rape”, although 1 of the worst crimes, shld be carefully tried in courts, not in the media
— Aaditya Thackeray (@AUThackeray) August 2, 2014
Indian sexual assault legislation has come under scrutiny since the 2012 gang rape and beating of a 23-year-old woman on a bus. The victim died from her injuries 13 days after the attack.