Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was today at the centre of a row over his "small rape incident" remark with attack being mounted on him from various quarters even as he said he had not referred to any particular case and that he had no intention of trivialising any crime.
"I regret that the statement has been construed or some word that I have used have been construed as insensitive. That was never my intention," he said in his clarification.
He was referring to his remarks made yesterday at the annual state tourism ministers' conference that "one small incident" of rape in Delhi, advertised world over, was enough to cost India millions of dollars in terms of global tourism.
Though he had not specified any incident, his remarks were seen to be a reference to the rape and brutal assault of a 23-year-old paramedic girl on December 16, 2012 in the capital over which the entire country was outraged and protests were held all over.
Jaitley said he has always been outspoken on issues relating to crimes, particularly those against women.
"I am very sensitive to these issues myself and there is no question of trivialising any crime or any particular incident. I had not referred to any particular incident," he said.
The minister said he had spoken "in general" on how crime can hurt tourism and the image of crime against women itself dissuades tourists from coming to India.
Criticising Jaitley's remarks, victim Nirbhaya's mother said, "He has disappointed me. During elections they had used Nirbhaya's name for political gains and after coming into power they call it a small incident."
Her father said, "We are deeply hurt by what he has said. No rape is small, each rape incident is shameful for a country and when public figures and politicians make such statements it looks so insensitive. They should remember that when they speak, not only our country but the whole world listens."
Congress leader Rashid Alvi termed as "most unfortunate" the remarks and said such statements reveal the thinking of the government.
"If any girl of the nation is raped, it is a blot on the nation. If a minister terms it as a small incident, that is most unfortunate. This shows the thinking of the government," he said.
Member of National Commission of Women (NCW) Nirmala Sawant said, "It is wrong from the part of a minister to make such remarks and compare how such crime can hurt country's economy. His remark is very unfortunate. I condemn it."
Congress' students wing NSU-I also strongly condemned the statement of Jaitley.
"We wish to ask him what in his case a small rape is and what is a big rape? It is sad and pathetic to have our representatives make such insensitive remarks. As a country we deserve more sensitive and rational leaders," NSU-I leader Amrish Ranjan Pandey said.
The word "small", however, was edited out of his speech transcript released by the Press Information Bureau.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar today said the matter should end after clarification by Jaitley.
"As far as today's statement is concerned, Jatiley has clarified. And you know his stature and eloquence. That he has already clarified, I think the matter ends there itself," he told reporters here.