Sambhal: Uttar Pradesh politician Mulayam Singh Yadav, who has sparked outrage after saying "boys are boys, they make mistakes," while questioning the death sentence to three multiple rapists, today attempted damage control but defended his views.
He said he believed in harshest punishment for rapists, but added, "We will not let the wrong law to continue...all those behind fake cases should be punished."
On Thursday, while campaigning for the national election, Mulayam Singh had said in a rally, "Should rape cases lead to hanging? Boys are boys, they make mistakes. We will try and change such laws...we will also ensure punishment for false cases." (Mulayam's shocker on rape: 'they are boys, they make mistakes')
He has been issued notice by the National Commission for Women. (Mulayam Singh's shocker on rape: who said what)
Pilloried nationwide over those remarks, the 74-year-old today said at another rally that he had been forced to clarify.
"This is a matter of debate, a debate brings good results. Many people said that my comments were right. I am against rape. Rapist should be given the most severe punishment. Innocent people should not be hanged. Rape is being debated in half the world. If I said this, what was wrong?" he said.
The three men he referred to on Thursday were convicted of gang-raping a photo-journalist and a telephone operator last year at the abandoned Shakti Mills in the heart of Mumbai. Last week, they became the first to be sentenced to death for multiple rapes, under tougher laws enacted after the fatal gang-rape of a young student on a moving bus in Delhi in December, 2012. (Shakti Mills gang-rapes: 3 convicts sentenced to death for repeat offence)
Mulayam Singh's party has promised in its poll manifesto to check what it calls the "misuse" of those laws.
The parents of the 23-year-old, who died from horrific injuries after being tortured with an iron rod, condemned the Samajwadi Party chief's comments. "If a gang of people rapes a woman, it is not a mistake... it is a crime," said her father. (Rape is not a 'mistake': Delhi Braveheart's parents deplore Mulayam's shocker)
Anger against the Samajwadi Party was further fueled by another party leader Abu Azmi's comment that seemed to imply that women who were raped should be hanged. (Now, Mulayam man Abu Azmi says women having sex should be hanged)