Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar has courted a controversy with his remarks that "some people are now saying that as Kashmir is open, brides will be brought from there".
Khattar was expressing concern over low sex ratio in Haryana at an event in Fatehabad on Friday when he made the remarks in an apparent reference to the scrapping of the special status for Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution.
"Now some people say, Kashmir is open, they (brides) will be brought from there. But jokes apart, if (sex) ratio is improved, then there will be a right balance in society," he said.
His remarks drew flak from various quarters, with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi terming them "despicable".
Reacting to the criticism, the chief minister accused the media of "running a misleading and factless campaign" against him and shared on Twitter a full video of the event.
"Daughters are our pride. Daughters of entire country are our daughters," Khattar tweeted while clarifying his position.
He also attacked Rahul Gandhi and advised him not to react to "distorted news".
"Dear @RahulGandhi ji, at least at your level you shouldn't react on distorted news. I'm attaching a video of what I actually said, and in what context - this will give you clarity of mind," he tweeted.
At a state-level function in Fatehabad, Khattar had said," Elders and youths will understand this thing that there can be problems if the number of girls is lesser than boys. Our (O P) Dhankarji had said that they (brides) will have to be brought from Bihar.
"Now some people say, Kashmir is open, they (brides) will be brought from there. But jokes apart, if (sex) ratio is improved, then there will be a right balance in society."
The CM further said, "The ratio of girls was 850 against per 1,000 boys. We made several programmes like Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao. Do you know Haryana was infamous for killing the girl child, but we ran a campaign and the gender ratio has improved from 850 to 933. It was a big work in the direction of bringing a change in society."
Haryana minister O P Dhankar had in 2014 said he would bring brides from Bihar for youths of Haryana if they were unable to find a match in the state which was infamous for its skewed sex ratio.
The Bharatiya Janata Party came out in the support of Khattar, saying the chief minister was referring to the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign of the party and trying to highlight the problems caused by skewed sex ratio.
"The statement of the CM is being twisted under an agenda," the Haryana BJP said while sharing the video of CM.
Reacting to the controversy, Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet, "Haryana CM Khattar's comment on Kashmir women is despicable and shows what years of RSS training does to the mind of a weak, insecure and pathetic man. Women are not asserts to be owned by men."
Hitting back, Khattar tweeted, "Weak, insecure and pathetic are adjectives people use for the President of the Congress Party. Manufacturing statements & subsequently destroying their own party does not work in the long term."
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said Khattar's remarks depict the mindset of the BJP.
"I am not against the marriage of Kashmiri girls in other states, but the manner in which Haryana CM has said is not right. Such a thing can be said by someone who does not have a daughter. A leader to say like this means the BJP has a bad mindset about girls, as they are not a commodity that you can take them away," he said.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Commission for Women on Saturday demanded that an FIR be registered against the Haryana chief minister for the objectionable remarks.
In the past, Khattar had stoked a controversy over remarks on rape and eve-teasing incidents.
At a function in Kalka town of Panchkula district in 2018, Khattar had said, "The incidents of rape have not increased... Rapes used to take place in the past and even today as well. (Only) the concern (over such incidents) has increased."