Under pressure from the opposition over the gang rape of two girls, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has drawn flak over his statement in the Assembly that the parents should "introspect" why their children were out on a beach late at night.
One of the accused who is a government employee has been suspended, the chief minister informed the House on Thursday.
Four men, one of them a driver with the agriculture department, allegedly posed as policemen and raped two girls after beating up the boys who were with them on Benaulim beach on Sunday. All the accused have been arrested.
But Sawant's statements in the Assembly on Wednesday where he appeared to blame the parents led to angry reactions.
“When 14-year-olds stay on the beach the whole night, the parents need to introspect. Just because children don’t listen, we cannot put the responsibility on the government and police,” he had said during a debate in the House.
The chief minister, who also holds the home portfolio, further said that parents have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their children.
State Congress spokesperson Altone D'Costa said the law and order situation has deteriorated in Goa. "Why should we fear while moving around at night? Criminals should be in jail and law-abiding citizens should be out freely moving around,” he said.
Goa Forward Party MLA Vijai Sardesai said the safety of citizens is the responsibility of the police and government. "If they can't provide it to us, the CM has no right to sit in the post,” he said.
“It is shocking that @goacm is blaming parents for allowing their children to venture out in the night claiming that it is not safe. if State govt can't assure us our security, who can give it? Goa has a history of being safe state for women, that tag is being lost in @BJP4Goa rule," independent MLA Rohan Khaunte tweeted.
Defending the police during the discussion on Wednesday, Sawant had also pointed out that of the 10 youngsters who went to the beach for a party, four -- the teenage victims and two boys -- stayed on the beach the whole night.
“Teens, particularly minors, should not be spending the nights on beaches," he added.
A legislator had claimed that an “influential person” was trying to protect the accused.
Sawant told the House during the zero hours on Thursday that one of the accused who is a government servant has been suspended, and the process to dismiss him was underway.
Director-General of Police Mukesh Kumar Meena told reporters that patrolling along the beaches and isolated spots has been intensified to prevent such incidents.
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With inputs from PTI