- Union Ministers hit out at Gandhis over alleged rape-murder in Punjab
- They demanded Rahul Gandhi stop his "political tours" and visit Punjab
- Half-burnt body of the 6-Year-old girl was found in Punjab on Wednesday
Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar and Nirmala Sitharaman hit out at Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra today over the alleged rape and murder of a six-year-old Dalit girl - whose father is a migrant labourer from Bihar - in Punjab's Hoshiarpur district.
Describing the incident as "extremely shocking" and calling for "strict action", Mr Javadekar demanded that Mr Gandhi - who has been fiercely critical of the BJP over the alleged gangrape and murder of a young Dalit woman in UP's Hathras last month - stop his "political tours" and visit Punjab to "take cognisance of crime against women".
Ms Sitharaman criticised the Congress for "selective outrage" and demanded to know why the "tweet-friendly" Rahul Gandhi had remained silent on this issue.
"The rape and murder of a six-year-old Dalit girl from Bihar, in Hoshiarpur's Tanda village, is very shocking. Instead of political tours, Rahul Gandhi should visit Tanda and Rajasthan, and take cognisance of incidents of crime against women," Mr Javadekar was quoted by news agency ANI.
"Neither Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi nor Priyanka Gandhi visited the family of the victim in Tanda. They do not pay heed to the injustice done to women in the states ruled by their party, but visit Hathras and other places for photo-op with the victim's family," he added.
"Why is the brother-sister pair not going (to) and voicing (their) horror... selective cry of outrage that the Congress wants to show when it (the crime) is elsewhere but not in their governed states is completely exposed. Not a word from the tweet-friendly leader Rahul Gandhi," Ms Sitharaman was quoted by ANI.
"Does this kind of selective outrage suits the stature of their party? The BJP will stand up for justice and will ensure that justice is delivered to this family, and in time," she added.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh hit back, dubbing their remarks as "political puffery" and rejecting any charges against his government. He also said that his party had only spoken up about the Hathras tragedy because the government in UP had failed the young woman.
"Had the BJP government in UP responded as effectively and speedily as we did in Punjab, neither the Congress and the Gandhis, nor scores of NGOs, lawyers, human rights activists would have been forced to take to the streets to fight for the victim," he was quoted by news agency PTI.
The BJP leaders' comments come after the Congress targeted the party's government in Uttar Pradesh over the alleged gangrape in Hathras and questioned Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's track record in protecting girls and women.
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.
Last week the two also criticised the BJP over its trademark "Beti bachao..." (save your daughters) campaign, pointing out that the situation in UP was more of a "apradhi bachao" (save criminals).
Both the BJP and UP Police have come under severe scrutiny for their conduct of the Hathras investigation, with the Allahabad High Court among their critics.
Yogi Adityanath earlier this month said his government was committed to the safety of women.
On Wednesday the half-burnt body of the young Dalit girl was found near a cattle shed in Punjab's Jalalpur village. Police have arrested two men - Surpreet Singh and his grandfather Surjit Singh - in connection with the crime.
Regardless of political affiliations and parties in charge of different states, the barbaric incident in Jalalpur village of Punjab's Tanda region is the latest in a string of sexual assaults and attacks on women and young girls across the country.
Data released by the National Crime Records Bureau last month showed India recorded an average of 87 rapes per day in 2019 - an increase of seven per cent from the previous year.
With input from ANI, PTI