Lawmaker’s ‘rape’ threat sparks outrage

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IOL pic apr11 india anti-rape protester AFP An Indian woman takes part in an anti-rape protest in Hyderabad in September 2013. File picture: AFP

Calcutta -

An Indian lawmaker faced calls to quit on Tuesday after he was captured on video threatening the rape of his political rivals' relatives.

Amid widespread outrage in India over a series of recent high-profile rapes, the Trinamool Congress MP Tapas Pal could be clearly heard bragging of his ability to order attacks against his left-wing opponents.

“If CPIM (Communist Party of India-Marxist) tries to kill and intimidate our workers... I will not spare them. I will let loose my men to rape your women,” he said in an address to followers in late May and filmed on a smartphone.

His comments drew widespread condemnation on Tuesday, including from Trinamool which is the fourth-largest party in Parliament and whose support is concentrated in the state of West Bengal.

“We do not in any way endorse what he said,” party spokesman Derek O'Brien told reporters, adding that party leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was “hopping mad” about the remarks.

Pal, who was a minor film star in the Calcutta-based movie industry, tried to limit the damage by claiming he had been misquoted.

“I never said rape. I said raid. I said they should raid all the people and places, including women and old,” he told CNN-IBN, refusing to apologise.

However, even his own wife Nandini said the lawmaker was out of line.

“I feel terrible about it. Whatever he has said, it is not right being a member of the parliament,” she told reporters.

The head of the National Commission for Women said Pal's position was now untenable.

“He should resign. This is a very unfortunate statement. CM Mamata Banerjee should take action against him, he should be suspended,” said the commission's head Mamata Sharma.

Brinda Karat, the leader of the Communists, told reporters that the comments were “completely unacceptable” and Pal “must be suspended” from the Lok Sabha, India's lower house of Parliament.

India brought in tougher laws last year against sex offenders after the fatal gang-rape of a student in New Delhi in December 2012, but they have failed to stem the tide of violence against women across the country.

In May, two girls aged 12 and 14 were found hanging from a mango tree in the state of Uttar Pradesh after they had been abducted and gang-raped. - Sapa-AFP


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