India on Monday termed 'unwarranted' the United Nations Resident Coordinator's statement on the alleged rape and murder in Uttar Pradesh's Hathras and Balrampur, and asserted any 'unnecessary comments by an external agency are best avoided' as the investigation process is still underway in the cases.
The Ministry of External Affairs also said these cases have been taken 'extremely seriously' by the government.
Calling for attention to cases of sexual violence against women and girls in India, UN Resident Coordinator in India Renata Dessallien said the alleged rape and murder in Hathras and Balrampur are a reminder that those from disadvantaged social groups are at greater risk of gender-based violence.
In a statement, she said it is essential that authorities ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice speedily and families are empowered to seek timely justice, social support, counselling, healthcare and rehabilitation.
The UN in India is profoundly saddened and concerned at the continuing cases of sexual violence against women and girls in India, the statement said.
Responding to a media query on the UN Resident Coordinator's statement, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said some 'unwarranted' comments have been made by the UN Resident Coordinator regarding some recent cases of violence against women.
"UN Resident Coordinator in India should be aware that these cases have been taken extremely seriously by the government," he said.
"Since the investigation process is still underway, any unnecessary comments by an external agency are best avoided," Srivastava said.
Underlining that the Constitution guarantees equality to all citizens, Srivastava said as a democracy 'we have a time-tested record of providing justice to all sections of our society'.
In her statement, the UN Resident Coordinator said, 'The recent cases of alleged rape and murder in Hathras and Balrampur are another reminder that despite the impressive progress made on a number of social indicators, women and girls from disadvantaged social groups face additional vulnerabilities and are at greater risk of gender-based violence.'
The steps being taken by the Indian government to strengthen safety measures for women and girls are welcome and urgent, the United Nations official said.
'We support the Prime Minister's call for strict action against the culprits. Entrenched social norms and behaviour of men and boys that lead to gender-based violence must be addressed,' the statement said.
The recent case of violence and sexual assault of a Dalit woman in Hathras has led to nation-wide protests and agitations.
A 19-year-old woman was allegedly raped at a village in Hathras by four men on September 14.
She was admitted to Aligarh Muslim University's Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital and later shifted to a Delhi hospital in an extremely critical condition with spinal injuries, paralysis and cuts in her tongue.
She breathed her last Tuesday. Her body was cremated in the early hours of Wednesday, with her family alleging the local police forced them to conduct the last rites in the dead of the night.
Local police officers, however, had said the cremation was carried out 'as per the wishes of the family'.
In Uttar Pradesh's Balrampur district, a 22-year-old Dalit woman died after allegedly being raped by two men.
The victim's mother has alleged that the rapists broke the legs and back of her daughter, but the police did not approve the charge.