Faced with a wave of attacks from the BJP over the alleged rape and murder of a six-year-old Dalit girl in Hoshiarpur district on Wednesday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today hit out at critics of his government, pointing out that the accused had already been arrested and a chargesheet in the case is to be presented in court in the coming week.
The Chief Minister, who yesterday dismissed similarities between this incident and the alleged gang rape and torture of a 20-year-old Dalit woman in UP's Hathras, stressed that his government had responded with "prompt action... and the accused had been caught without delay".
"Prompt action was taken by Punjab Police and the accused was caught without delay, unlike in Hathras. That (delay in police action) was why Rahul Gandhi had to rush to Hathras - to secure justice for the victim's family - and did not need to visit Hoshiarpur," Mr Singh told reporters.
"Had the Punjab government or police failed to respond swiftly, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and others would have reacted the same way as they did in the Hathras case," he added.
On Saturday Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar and Nirmala Sitharaman tore into senior Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra over the Hoshiarpur tragedy.
Mr Gandhi responded: "Unlike in UP, the governments of Punjab and Rajasthan are NOT denying the girl was raped, threatening her family and blocking the course of justice. If they do, I will go there to fight for justice."
The BJP leaders' comments came after the Congress targeted their party's government in UP over Hathras and questioned Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's track record in protecting women.
Amarinder Singh had also reacted and said that if his government had been as slow to react to the horror as the UP administration was in Hathras, the Gandhis "would have been forced to take to the streets to fight for the victim".
Mr Gandhi and Ms Gandhi Vadra met the family of the young woman - who died from injuries sustained in the attack - after two dramatic attempts. They were stopped each time by UP Police - the first saw Mr Gandhi shoved to the ground by cops and the second saw Ms Gandhi Vadra manhandled by the police as she tried to protect a party worker during a lathi charge.
Both the BJP and UP Police have come under severe scrutiny for their conduct of the Hathras investigation, including from the Allahabad High Court.
The police have suggested the woman may not have been raped because forensic samples collected over 10 days after the crime found no semen. The cops also rushed the woman's funeral - it was held at 2.30 am and her family was not allowed to attend.
Yogi Adityanath earlier this month said his government was committed to the safety of women.