Congress women workers on Wednesday staged a protest outside Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters demanding immediate resignation of Union Minister Nihal Chand Meghwal whose name has cropped up in a rape case.
The protesters led by Shobha Oza, President of All India Congress Mahila Morcha, reached BJP Headquarters at 11, Ashoka Road around noon and raised anti-BJP slogans. They were also carrying placards demanding Meghwal’s resignation. “This shows BJP’s dual face. When there are rape cases in Uttar Pradesh, they demand President’s rule but when crimes happen in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, they keep quiet,” said Oza.
“If rape cases are normal for BJP, then what kind of security have they promised for women? Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised zero tolerance for crime against women, in the Parliament. So we want to ask him if this is zero tolerance?”
The protesters also claimed that the victim was being pressurised and demanded security for her. “The victim has said that she is being forced to take back the case. Ministers and goons are trying to pressurise the victim. Minister (Meghwal) is using his power and position to threaten the woman. We do not see any justice for the victim. We demand immediate resignation of Nihal Chand and security to the survivor,” said Oza.
The demonstrators tried to breach the police barricade and burnt Meghwal’s effigy. Onika Mehrotra, president of Delhi Pradesh Mahila Congress who was also at the protest, said, “We have been very vocal about our demand. Then why aren’t they taking any action? Modi was the one to say ‘bahut hua mahilao par attyachar, ab ki baar Modi sarkar’ but where has the crime ended?”
Party spokesperson P C Chacko said, “It is a shame for the government that a person, who is accused of a heinous crime like rape and has been summoned by the court, still continues in the government. Now they (the government) say they will follow the legal course. This is too much. The minister should not be allowed to continue even for a moment.”
He added that the government should act on moral grounds in this case and not politically.
Meghwal, 42, is the only representative from Rajasthan in Modi’s council of ministers. He is the Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizers.
He was named in an FIR filed in 2011 by a woman who alleged that her husband repeatedly drugged her and then allowed his friends, among them Meghwal, to rape her.
Rajasthan police had, in 2012, closed the case saying the charges were false and fabricated.
The woman had then approached a district court which, too, dismissed the charges. She filed a review petition, following which additional district judge issued notices to Meghwal and 17 others in this case last week, asking them to respond by August 20.
Image: Congress women workers stage a protest outside the BJP headquarters. Photograph: ANI/Twitter