Several Union ministers on Thursday sought to defend the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Uttar Pradesh, facing criticism over its response to the alleged gang rape of a minor girl in Unnao, saying it is committed to protecting women and ensuring that law takes its course.
BJP legislator from Bangarmau, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, was on Thursday booked by the UP police on various charges under the Indian Penal Code, including rape, kidnapping and criminal intimidation, in connection with the alleged rape of the 17-year-old girl.
The state government said it would hand the probe over to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
"... When we say Beti Bachao, we really mean that. We are here to safeguard the interests of our daughters and we are committed to their safety. As far as Unnao incident is concerned, the law of justice will prevail," Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma told reporters.
Sharma said whosoever is found responsible for the incident, irrespective of his stature, will be punished.
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said action should be taken in every such case against women.
"This is distressing and justice will be done. The case has been given to CBI and law will take its course," she said.
Backing the Yogi Adityanath government, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said the Uttar Pradesh government is working day and night to maintain law and order in the state.
"The state government will bring to book all the culprits in the state," he said.
Satyapal Singh, minister of state for human resource development, said the SIT has submitted its report, strict action will be taken against the guilty.
"I don't know how much is he (Kuldeep Singh Sengar) involved in the case; sometimes allegations are proven wrong also," he said.
The Uttar Pradesh government is facing strong criticism over its response to the case. Opposition political parties have hit out at the BJP government in the state.
On Wednesday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi wondered if Prime Minister Narendra Modi would observe a fast on the alleged rape and death of the complainant's father in custody, which he said 'has shamed humanity'.
The case came into the limelight after the victim tried to immolate herself outside Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's residence on Sunday alleging police inaction against BJP MLA Sengar.
On Wednesday night, an SIT probing the case handed over its report to the government after which it was decided that an FIR would be registered against the MLA and the case would be handed over to the CBI.
A purported video of the alleged rape survivor's father before his death has also gone viral and was aired by several TV news channels.
In the video, he has alleged that he was mercilessly beaten up, including with rifle butts, by the MLA's brother and others.
It also showed the victim's father -- who died on Monday -- with serious wounds on his back. The veracity of the video could not be ascertained.