The Karnataka government has demanded an “unconditional apology” from the National Commission for Women for criticising state Home Minister G Parameshwara’s remark on the New Year’s Eve mass molestation in Bengaluru and seeking his resignation. Accusing the NCW of trying to malign the politician, it has demanded that the commission recall the “baseless notice” issued to him, failing which it will sue for defamation.

“You have issued the notice blindly to gain political mileage for yourself and to please the BJP government that nominated you,” said the letter sent by CM Dhananjaya, a spokesperson for the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee and chairman of its legal and human rights department. “He [Parameshwara] is very well aware of the dignity of women in the society.”

The letter, which was sent to NCW Chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam (pictured above), further accuses the commission of “undermining the prestige and dignity of the noble leader” and tarnishing his image. It said the NCW notice issued to Parameshwara was defamatory in nature, and that the State Commission for Women would take stock of the molestation case, “if such incident has taken place”.

In response to the letter, Kumaramangalam said: “The Karnataka government is trying to accuse me of politicising the entire incident. This shows that the Congress party is trying to make this entire issue political, either to gain currency from it or to hide the fact that they have not been able to take any real action.”

The women’s commission had issued Parameshwara a notice after he blamed “western ways” among youngsters for the widespread street harassment women faced on December 31 in Bengaluru. On January 2, the Karnataka home minister had said that it was not uncommon for crowds of women to be molested in the city on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. “Youngsters...try to copy westerners not only in their mindset but even in their dressing,” Parameshwara had told a news channel.

Multiple incidents of molestation were reported in the city’s MG Road and Brigade Road areas on the night of December 31. Dozens of women were left cowering behind policemen or male friends and acquaintances as crowds of men descended on them. Some were forced to run away while others wept.