Haryana minister Shiv Charan Sharma landed in a controversy after calling suicide victim Geetika Sharma a "servant" of his former ministerial colleague Gopal Kanda who is the prime accused in the case.
Sharma, the minister for labour and employment who also said the case in which Kanda has been booked is not "such a big" one, came under fire today from BJP and women's bodies who dubbbed the remark as insensitive, insulting and shameful. Geetika's brother Ankit demanded an apology from the minister.
"This isn't such a big case. He (Kanda) appointed her (Geetika) as a servant by mistake," Sharma, a Congress leader, said referring to the Geetika suicide case while participating in jailed Kanda’s birthday celebrations organised by his supporters in Sirsa on December 29. Geetika was an employee of the now defunct MDLR airline owned by Kanda.
As the remark sparked an outrage, Sharma apologised saying he had not said anything against the girl, who was like his "daughter" and he was misunderstood and the remark distorted.
"I haven't said anything about the girl. All the government employees are servants only...I was misunderstood. If I have hurt anyone's feelings I am apologising for it."
Sharma also sought to downplay the controversy, saying the Kanda case is in the court.
"I respect the court and court will decide whether he is a convict or not. If he has committed a crime, court will charge him otherwise he will be released. CBI is investigating the case. Within few days we will get the result of the investigation," he added.
The opposition INLD demanded Sharma's resignation from the Ministry for "pre-judging" the Geetika suicide case.
"The minister by casting aspersions in a case which is under trial has tried to pre-judge the judicial process," INLD Secretary General Ajay Chautala said in a statement.
BJP's Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi slammed Sharma calling his remark unfortunate and warned that people's anger will rise because of such "insensitive" comments.
Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said the party will talk to Sharma as he was not aware of the remark but stressed political leaders should make comments very carefully.
"He is insulting the girl(Geetika) by calling him Kanda's servant. Question should be asked from him why the girl committed suicide," said National Commission for Women (NCW) chief Mamata Sharma.
BJP's Smriti Irani said the remark was extremely condemnable, especially when the atmosphere was surcharged after the death of the 23-year old Delhi gang-rape victim.