Sonia Gandhi meets Jind Dalit rape victim's family, says punish 'barbaric' perpetrators

Sonia Gandhi

Congress President Sonia Gandhi today met the family of a Dalit teenaged girl, who immolated herself after being allegedly gangraped in this district, and said perpetrators of such "barbaric" crimes must be severely punished.

She said those guilty of such heinous crimes, which take place not only in Haryana but elsewhere too, must be "severely punished".

"Doshiyoon ko sakt saza milnee chaiyehein (the guilty must be severely punished)," Sonia told reporters in a brief interaction at village Sachha Khera, where she met the victim's family and assured them of all possible help.

She assured the family "speedy justice", "safety and security" and "financial and social help".

"She hugged me and said Sharmila is her daughter; and she will ensure that justice is delivered," said Rajkali, victim's mother.

The victim Sharmila is survived by her father Balraj, mother Rajkali, grandfather Ramchander, grandmother Dhanpati, two brothers Mintu and Sahil, and four sisters including Mamta, Kalu, Poonam and Anjali. Sonia Gandhi spoke with each of them and assured them all sorts of help.

"She sat with us on a chair; and consoled us. She said it was equally disturbing for her. She said the government shall ensure that the accused get the most severe punishment," said Balraj, rape victim's father.

After reaching the village in her cavalcade crossing narrow lanes, Sonia when asked to comment on the growing number of such cases in Haryana in the recent past, said such acts were condemnable.

She was accompanied by Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Union Minister Kumari Selja, Haryana Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala and Congress MP from Sirsa, Ashok Tanwar.

When asked to comment on some Khap Panchayat or caste council leaders in Haryana suggesting that marriageable age for girls should be reduced to 16 as this will help in curbing the increasing instances of rapes in the State, the UPA Chairperson rejected it.

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