New Delhi: CBI Director Ranjit Sinha today expressed regret for his comments comparing the legalizing of betting in sports to 'enjoying rape', after a huge public backlash.
"I regret any hurt caused as same was unintended and inadvertent. I reiterate my deep sense of regard and respect for women and commitment to gender issues," Mr Sinha said today, stopping short of an apology in his third clarification since the controversy erupted yesterday.
India's top investigator was at a panel discussion in Delhi on Tuesday evening, trying to argue that if the state could not stop betting it should at least legalise it and earn revenue, when he drew the bizarre analogy, "If you can't prevent rape, you enjoy it." (watch CBI's chief's comment)
He tried to explain later that he "just used a proverb to make a point," but his use of the word 'proverb' for the distasteful comment did nothing to stop the deluge of outrage on social forums.
The CBI issued a clarification late last night and Mr Sinha tried to defend himself again today, saying, "I gave my opinion that betting should be legalized and laws cannot be enforced. That does not mean that laws should not be made. This is as erroneous as saying that rape is inevitable and one should lie back and enjoy it."
The CBI chief's epic blunder inflamed the social media and enraged many at a time the nation's rape debate - triggered by the fatal gang-rape of a medical student in a moving bus in Delhi last December - has been dominated by calls for sweeping changes not just in laws but in mindsets.
"The CBI director has rendered himself unfit to hold this office. Such an irresponsible and insensitive comment is simply inexcusable," tweeted Biocon chief Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.
"Unbelievable!" tweeted noted Bangladesh writer Taslima Nasreen.
CPI-M leader Brinda Karat said the CBI director should be prosecuted. "If the CBI director who is in charge of several rape investigations can trivialize it, it gives a very wrong message. He has no right to continue in office," Ms Karat said.