Prime Minister Narendra Modi should follow his own advice and speak up more often, Manmohan Singh told The Indian Express in an interview published on Wednesday. His remarks were in reference to the Unnao and Kathua rape cases.
In the Unnao case, a BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, is accused of raping a teenager in June 2017. In Kathua, eight people are accused of abducting, sedating, repeatedly raping and murdering an eight-year-old in January.
The former prime minister added that he was glad Modi had finally broken his silence on the rapes. Modi had said that the culprits would not be spared and the “daughters of India” would get justice. “I do feel that those in authority must speak up in time so as to give a lead to their followers,” Singh said, adding that Modi’s silence led people to think that they could get away without stern action being taken against them.
The former prime minister also said that Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti could have handled the Kathua case more seriously by taking matters into her own hands from the first day. But he conceded that there may have been pressure from her party’s coalition partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party, to slow down.
“There are bound to be pressures…but if it is carried to such an extent that you can condone the sad demise of an eight-year-old girl having been raped and kept for a week in a temple, that is the most shocking thing,” Singh said. He also castigated many of the BJP’s state governments for ignoring matters related to women’s safety and lynching of Muslims and Dalits.
On the BJP referring to him as “Maun Mohan Singh”, the former prime minister said that he had lived with such comments for a long time.