Goa CM Pramod Sawant

Can’t post a cop each for every girl’s safety: Goa Minister

PANAJI:  Days after Chief Minister Pramod Sawant was slammed by the Opposition for blaming parents for the rape of two minors on a beach, Goa’s Arts and Culture Minister Govind Gaude on Friday said that it was logistically not possible for a government to post policemen to guard every girl in the state.

“The problem is, if one has to post a policeman for every person, every girl, how many police will we require? This is what it is. Government is not running away from responsibility. Government is protecting. Government is there with the people,” Gaude told reporters on the sidelines of the ongoing Monsoon Session of the state Legislative Assembly.

Gaude, who is also a lone independent MLA supporting the BJP-led coalition government, also said that protection of minor children was a joint responsibility to be shared by parents and the government.

“He (CM) has already said that it is also the responsibility of the parents to know about where the children are. It does not mean that the government has taken hands off and is running away from holding responsibility,” Gaude said.

“CM has already clarified about this. Being a parent, he has said that parents, especially in minor cases, have to look where children are going, have children taken permission, whether they are staying at somebody’s place. It is the responsibility of the parents and governments also,” Gaude said.

The Opposition had demanded an apology from the CM over his comments made on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Sawant in a discussion during the Monsoon Session of the Assembly had said that parents should introspect why their minor wards are allowed to spend time on beaches after dark.

Statement taken out of context

Meanwhile, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Friday claimed that his statement on the unfortunate incident was taken out of context.

“My statement about the unfortunate incident was taken out of context. Both as head of a responsible government and as a father of a 14-year-old daughter, I was deeply pained and disturbed. The pain of this incident is inexplicable,” Sawant said in a social media post.

“At no point, I have tried to deny the right to security provided by our law. Goa Police has been a truly professional force especially when it comes to the security of women and children. They have already acted swiftly and arrested the accused, and let me assure you that I shall ensure that the culprits get the most stringent punishment under the law. The safety of our citizens is always my govt’s top priority,” he also said.

Sawant also said that the safety of children needs to be a “shared responsibility” and that the right to security has to be strengthened further with more cautiousness and that children, especially minors, need guidance from their elders.

“There is a curfew imposed in the State, and people are restricted at public places. So when I spoke about a shared responsibility for minor children, it was out of concern, care and love for my fellow citizens and our children. We all love our kids. Being the Chief Minister my feeling of concern is extended to all the children of Goa,” Sawant said.

“I, both as an individual and as the CM can never ever directly, indirectly or remotely hurt the sentiments of my fellow citizens of Goa. I put this on record today. I reiterate that in matters that concern the safety and security of our children, there will be no compromise. Let there be no place for misunderstanding,” Sawant said.

The Opposition had demanded an apology from the CM over his comments earlier.

On the night of July 24, two minor girls were raped at the Colva beach in South Goa. Four persons, including a government servant, have been arrested in connection with the crime. — IANS

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