Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's remark in the assembly on Friday that only one gang rape in the city in December last year had prompted her government to launch the 181 helpline drew sharp criticism with the Bharatiya Janata Party saying it reflected her "insensitivity" towards women.
In course of a statement in the assembly on performance of her government in the last five years, Dikshit said her administration lost no time in setting up the helpline for women in distress following "one rape case" in the city.
In the context, the chief minister also made reference of Madhya Pradesh, which is ruled by the BJP, saying the state has earned the tag of "rape capital" of the country.
"One rape case had taken place in Delhi and it is now acknowledged that Madhya Pradesh is the rape capital of the country. We had one rape case and a helpline called 181 was established immediately within a week so that all women who feel insecure can contact us and police for help. It is only one of its kind in India," Dikshit said.
As per official figures, 810 cases of rape were reported in Delhi from December 16 last year, when the brutal sexual assault of a paramedical student shook the country, till June this year. A total of 706 cases of rape were reported in Delhi in 2012.
Strongly reacting to Dikshit's remark, Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel challenged her to an open debate on the issue of law and order in Delhi and claimed that there has been a 600 per cent rise in crime against women in the city in the last seven months.
"Delhi is the rape capital of the country. The chief minister herself said that her daughter is not safe in Delhi. Every two hours one case of molestation or rape is reported in Delhi. Then how can the chief minister say that only one rape had taken place," Goel said.
He also came down heavily on Dikshit for referring to Madhaya Pradesh while talking about rape cases, saying there should not be any comparison on such a sensitive issue.
"I am challenging her for an open debate on the issue. Her comment that only one rape had prompted her government to set up the helpline is very insensitive," he said.
Leader of Opposition V K Malhotra termed Dikshit's comments as "pack of lies" and lambasted her for making "such irresponsible" remarks. "Her comments are most objectionable. They are a pack of lies. How can she say only one rape had taken place in Delhi when so many such cases have been reported every day. Has she forgotten the rape of a five-year-old in April," Malhotra said.
The BJP legislators were not present in the House when Dikshit made the comment as they were suspended for creating ruckus while protesting Speaker Yoganand Shastri's decision to allow Dikshit to make a suo motu statement on last day of the fourth assembly.
Accusing the chief minister of absolving herself of the responsibility towards safety of women, Malhotra said her comment was "extremely insensitive" and "unacceptable".
"How can you make such a comment when the city reported so many rape cases. On one had Dikshit says her daughter does not feel safe in Delhi and on the other hand she says only one rape had taken place," said Malhotra.
The Delhi government had set up the 181 helpline for women in January for offering help to women in distress amid nationwide uproar over the December 16 case. The girl had died in a Singapore hospital.
Three months back, Dikshit had said, "My own daughter feels unsafe in the city". She had also said that statistics on crime against women are shocking.
Aam Admi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal slammed Dikshit for her comment and said it showed her in "poor light".
"Not a single rape but many rapes are taking place in Delhi. Diskhit should not hide behind such statements, as it doesn't show her in good light. Rapes are taking place in both Congress and BJP ruled states. She says she is unable to act as Delhi Police is not under her, but Delhi needs a strong chief minister and not the one who makes excuses,” he said.