Oppn, women slam minister for ‘servant’ remark

Haryana Minister Shiv Charan Lal Sharma's controversial statement, where he called suicide victim Geetika Sharma as former minister Gopal Kanda's "wrong choice of servant" has landed him in thick soup, as Opposition parties and women activists staged protests against the ruling state Congress and demanded his immediate resignation from the post of Labour Minister.

Sharma (80), father of one daughter and three sons, is an Independent MLA from Faridabad. He was given a ministerial berth by Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

On December 29, Sharma called Geetika a "servant", while glorifying Kanda in Sirsa, on the occasion of Kanda's birthday. Another independent MLA Prahlad Singh Gillakhera, who is a chief parliamentary secretary in Haryana, also made a controversial statement saying "...Gopal Kanda's birthday was being celebrated inside the jail also and he shall be among the people of Sirsa by his next birthday".

Kanda is currently facing charges of abetment of suicide of Geetika Sharma — former employee in Kanda's MDLR airlines.

The youth wing of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) staged protests across the state demanding Sharma's immediate removal from the post of Minister. The protestors also burnt effigies and covered Gopal Kanda's posters in Sirsa with black paint. Women's organisations also protested against Sharma in Sirsa and Faridabad.

"Sharma had made a derogatory remark about Geetika. This shows his own sick mentality and the amount of respect he holds for women. Sharma also disrespected the Indian judiciary and despite the fact that the case is sub-judice, he advocated for Kanda and glorified an accused, who is presently languishing in jail," said Jitender Balhara, an INLD youth wing leader.

"Congress leaders are singing songs in his (Kanda) praise and glorifying him by tarnishing the image of a woman, who lost her life because of Kanda," Balhara added.

In a statement issued to the media by Haryana's former Chief Parliamentary Secretary and Congress spoksperson Ran Singh Mann, the party came out in Sharma's defence. "The issue of a recent statement by Haryana Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Shiv Charan Lal Sharma should not be politicised as he has already apologised for the same. Congress party was not in favour of making any statement, which might hurt the sentiments of women. If anyone utters anything else, that would be his personal opinion. The Congress party respects women," it stated.

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