Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has attracted criticism for his remark suggesting that a minor argument could provoke women to file rape complaints.

Addressing a gathering in Panchkula district on Friday, Khattar said the “biggest concern” was the proclivity of women to file rape cases and denied reports that incidents of rape have increased in the state. “The incidents of rape have not increased... Rapes used to take place in the past and even today. [Only] the concern [over such incidents] has increased,” he said, according to PTI.

He further said: “Around 80% to 90% of the rape and molestation cases happen between people who are familiar with each other. They roam around together for days, and when they finally squabble one day, the woman files an FIR saying that she has been raped.”

On Sunday, the chief minister sought to defend his remark. “I did not say consensual, I said ‘between known’,” Khattar said, according to ANI. “This is not something I am claiming, it is a fact based on investigations. This should be dealt with at a social level, it should not be seen as politics.”

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said Khattar’s comments exposed his government’s “anti-women” mindset. “Haryana CM Khattarji makes an utterly condemnable remark,” he tweeted on Saturday. “Blaming women for complete failures to control rapes [and] gangrapes? Deplorable!”

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal criticised Khattar for his comment. “If the chief minister of a state thinks like this, how will girls be safe there?” tweeted Kejriwal on Sunday. “CM sahib is justifying rape. This is why rapes are increasing in Haryana, rapists are not getting caught and are roaming free.”