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Advani promises death rap for rape by amending law soon - The Times of India

Inder Sawhney ()
October 28, 1998

Title: Advani promises death rap for rape by amending law soon
Author: Inder Sawhney
Publication: The Times of India
Date: October 28, 1998

Union home minister L.K. Advani said on Tuesday that the law
would be amended soon to prescribe capital punishment for rape.
He said the government held the view that rape should attract
the most deterrent penalty.

Mr Advani said, "The Union cabinet has already approved it.
Since criminal law is in the concurrent list, we have sought the
views of the state governments. Once this formality is
completed, it would need minor amendments in the existing law to
make rape punishable with death."

In an exclusive interview, Mr Advani told The Times of India
that during the discussion on "atrocities on women" in the
budget session of Parliament, the consensus was that rape should
invite the death sentence.

Answering questions on the Jhabua nuns' rape, he said his
ministry had received the report on this case from the Madhya
Pradesh government but had no role to play. He hoped that the
state government, which was pursuing the case, would nab the
accused.

The home minister said his ministry sought information about the
nuns' case when it learnt that some Christians were involved in
it. He said since 12 of those involved were Christians, he would
reject the communal angle being given to the episode. He said he
had explained this to the US ambassador when he raised the nuns'
issue during a meeting last week.

Referring to the demand of his party's general secretary and MP
from Indore Sumitra Mahajan for referring the ease to CBI, he
said a CBI probe could be ordered only if the state demanded it.
"We cannot order a CBI probe just because one MP demands it," he
said.

Answering questions on issues on Pakistan, Salman Rushdie,
imposition of Article 356 in Bihar and the coming assembly
elections, Mir Advani made it clear that India did not want a
war with Pakistan.

Reacting to the remark of Pakistan foreign minister Sartaj Aziz
that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee did not want war with
Pakistan while Mr Advani was adopting a hard line, the home
minister said, "All that I would like to say is that Pakistan
has unleashed a proxy war against India and Mr Aziz's comment
reflects the reactions of a frustrated minister who is realizing
that the present Indian government is succeeding day by day in
overcoming the proxy war and quelling militancy in Jammu and
Kashmir."

Mr Advani, who has stated that Salman Rushdie would be welcome
if he visited India, clarified that there was no proposal for
lifting the ban on Mr Rushdie's book The Satanic Verses,
explaining that it would evoke reactions if one government
changed a decision taken by another government. Mr Advani said
that he had not read the book, only some passages from the book
quoted in newspapers. However, he said he did not seen any
justification for the ban or stopping Mr Rushdie from visiting
India.

He recalled a similar controversy raked up by the Riddles of
Rama, a book based on compilations of the writings of B.R.
Ambedkar.

He said that as references to Lord Ram were derogatory, a
delegation from Mumbai met him when he was BJP president. He
told the delegation that he was not in favour of the ban.

On the possibility of making a second attempt to impose Article
356 in Bihar, Mr Advani said the Centre had been thinking over
the Bihar issue and would initiate action at the appropriate
time. ihar is an issue which keeps on cropping up. Being one
of the two largest states in the country, it cannot he allowed
to remain in anarchy. The issue is not only the imposition of
Article 356. The moot question is whether we are really helpless
to deal with a situation that prevails in Bihar."

Mr Advani said the coming assembly polls could not be called a
referendum on the performance of the Vajpayee government.

Asked how would be able to draw any conclusion if, say, the BJP
happened to win in Madhya Pradesh or lose in Rajasthan or for
that matter in Delhi, Mr Advani said, "I do think that so far as
the Centre is concerned, if it were the Lok Sabha election we
would have certainly improved our position. In assembly
elections, regional and local issues matter a lot, I feel that
the performance of the Vajpayee government is being widely
appreciated. Of course, problems arise because of the arithmetic
of the Lok Sabha and not because of the failures of the
government."

As regards the rise in prices, Mr Advani felt that the reason
was the abysmally low level of production. However, he expressed
the hope that the government would he able to check the rise in
prices.

On the recitation of Saraswati Vandana at the education
ministers' conference, Mr Advani said he was amazed that anyone
should have staged a walkout against prayer to Saraswati who was
treated as the goddess of learning.

He said it reminded him of the pre-independence days when some
sections used to protest against Vande Mataram. This annoyed
Gandhiji who wrote an article defending Vande Mataram and
lashing at its critics.

Mr Advani said Saraswati did not denote a religion but it was
pad of India's cultural tradition. He recalled protests by some
sections when the then President Zakir Hussain used to
inaugurate functions by lighting lamps as it was projected as a
Hindu practice.

He said other countries, too, had their traditions. For
instance, he said when he visited the UK as a member of a
parliamentary delegation, the speaker of the House of Commons
invited the Indian delegation for dinner. The dinner was delayed
as the chaplain did not arrive on time. It started after the
chaplain said grace.


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