Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra on Thursday said that the complainant in the Mysuru gangrape case should not have gone to the deserted place, triggering a controversy, PTI reported.

On Tuesday evening, a group of five men had allegedly gangraped a woman and assaulted her male friend near Chamundi Hills on the outskirts of the city.

Responding to the incident on Thursday, the Karnataka minister said: “Around 7 pm -7.30 pm [on Tuesday] they [the complainant and her friend] had gone there. It is a deserted place, they should not have gone.. but we can’t stop anyone from going.”

After the Congress criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in Karnataka for the incident, the minister made another controversial remark.

“Rape has happened there [in Mysuru] but the Congress was trying to rape me,” Jnanendra said, according to PTI. They [the Congress] are trying to rape the home minister. They are trying to gain political mileage. It is an inhuman act.”

Karnataka Congress President DK Shivakumar sought responses from BJP leaders on the minister’s comment. “He is using the word rape very lightly,” Shivakumar said, according to PTI.

Also read: Mysuru gangrape: NCW takes cognisance, writes to DGP to arrest accused immediately

Shivakumar also criticised Jnanendra for apparently blaming the woman. “Home minister you have the onus of protecting the state,” he said. “Are you not ashamed of making such a shabby remark?”

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai criticised his minister’s comments. “I have advised him to tender an apology and directed officials to pursue the matter seriously,” Bommai said, according to The Times of India.

After the controversy, the minister withdrew his remarks, according to PTI.

Meanwhile, the Congress asked why no arrests had been made in the case so far. “The gang rape of a college student in Mysuru has left me shaken,” Shivakumar tweeted. “If there’s something worse it is the apathy of the BJP government in bringing her justice.”

The Congress leader added: “Former Congress MP Sri VS Ugrappa will lead a team to ensure the culprits are caught and given the strictest punishment.”

On Thursday, Mysuru Police Commissioner Chandragupta said that the woman, who was in critical a condition, was yet to give her statement. “We have set up special teams for investigation,” the police chief added. “We are looking at all angles. An incident has occurred and we want to probe it effectively.”