Azam Khan statement triggers political storm

Uttar Pradesh Cabinet minister Mohammad Azam Khan’s comment that a “political conspiracy” could have occasioned in the Bulandshahr gang-rape has created a furor, with the Bharatiya Janata Party accusing the Samajwadi Party leader of “doing politics on gang-rape now.”

Khan had said on Monday night that investigative agencies should find out if any Opposition party was involved in the rape of a mother and daughter in Bulandshahr on Friday night: “To get power, politicians can get down to any level, they can murder people, trigger riots, kill innocent people, so the truth has to be found out… The government needs to keep a watch on its political opponents because people can stoop to any level in politics.”

Facing flak for his insensitive remarks, Khan later attempted to wriggle out of the spot: “I didn’t say it’s an ‘opposition conspiracy.’ I just said that the UP [state] polls are nearing and the fact that so many such incidents are happening needs to be investigated,” he told ANI.

The BJP condemned Khan’s statement. “It is like rubbing salt in the wounds of the traumatized family which has threatened to commit suicide. This is the worst form of politics that the Samajwadi Party minister has indulged in. I guess he has lost his mind. If he hasn’t, he should justify his statement or else he should be sacked,” state BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya said.

“What can you expect from a party whose top leaders have earlier been caught on camera defending rape as ‘bacchon ki galti’ (mistakes of childhood)? This kind of approach is what has encouraged leaders like Khan to make such comments,” Satyadeo Tripathi, head of Congress’s communication department, said.

State Commission for Women Chairperson Zarina Usmani, who visited Bulandshahr to meet the family, steered clear of the row, refusig to comment on Khan’s statement.