Babulal Gaur, BJP leader and Madhya Pradesh Home Minister, has described rape as a social crime, saying "sometimes it's right, sometimes it's wrong", in the latest controversial remarks by a politician about rape.
The Uttar Pradesh state government has faced criticism for failing to visit the scene and for accusing the media of hyping the story of two minor cousins who were raped and hung by a tree last week. Babulal Gaur said on Thursday that the crime of rape can only be considered to have been committed if it is reported to police.
"This is a social crime which depends on men and women. Sometimes it's right, sometimes it's wrong," said Babulal Gaur. "Until there's a complaint, nothing can happen," Gaur told reporters.
Gaur also expressed sympathy with Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. In the recent election, Mulayam criticised legal changes that foresee the death penalty for gang rape, saying: "Boys commit mistakes: Will they be hanged for rape?"
The BJP dismissed Gaur's comments as an expression of his personal views, and not the party's.
The father and uncle of one of the victims said they tried to report the crime to local police but had been turned away. Three men have been arrested over the killings. Two policemen were held on suspicion of trying to cover up the crime.
Although a rape is reported in India every 21 minutes on average, law enforcement failures mean that such crimes - a symptom of pervasive sexual and caste oppression - are often not reported or properly investigated, human rights groups say.
More sex crimes have come to light in recent days. A woman in a nearby district of Uttar Pradesh was gang-raped, forced to drink acid and strangled to death. Another was shot dead in northeast India while resisting attackers, media reports said.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said he was "especially appalled" by the rape and murder of the two girls.
"We say no to the dismissive, destructive attitude of, 'Boys will be boys'," he said in a statement this week that made clear his contempt for the language used by Mulayam Singh Yadav.