A Bharatiya Janata Party leader in the Odisha Assembly on Thursday said that “Muslim women dominate red-light areas of Mumbai and Kolkata”, PTI reported. BC Sethi, who is the saffron party’s deputy leader in the Assembly, justified his statement saying that he was quoting “survey reports”.

“What’s wrong in quoting survey reports in the House?” the leader was quoted as saying. “I have not made any adverse remarks against any community, but quoted survey reports that say Muslim women dominate the red-light areas in Mumbai and Kolkata.”

Sethi also said that divorcee Muslim women, who were “triple talaq victims”, were forced into prostitution in these metros, according to Orissa Post. The leader was speaking during Zero Hour in favour of the triple talaq bill, which was ratified by President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday.

Members of the Biju Janata Dal and Congress demanded that the remarks of the BJP leader be expunged from the records. Sethi had made the comments while responding to Congress leaders who had criticised the Centre for pushing the bill in Parliament.

The BJP leader also claimed that certain political parties had opposed to the bill for minority votes. “The opponents of the triple talaq bill should keep it in mind that the legislation was passed in the Parliament on humanitarian ground to protect the interests of the women at large,” PTI quoted the leader as saying.

Speaker SN Patro said that he would go over the BJP leader’s comments and asked the agitating leaders to maintain peace. After the MLAs refused to listen, he was forced to adjourn the House.

Sethi also defended his statement, saying that the Congress was unnecessarily creating problems on what he said. “There is nothing wrong in what I said, even in Pakistan and Bangladesh they don’t have triple talaq,” ANI quoted him as saying. “This is not a matter of BJP, the Supreme Court passed a guideline and BJP implemented it, what’s wrong in that?”

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, or the triple talaq bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, with 99 votes in favour and 84 against it.

The bill seeks to make the practice of instant triple talaq – which allows Muslim men to divorce their wives by uttering the word “talaq” thrice in spoken or written forms, or via electronic communication – a penal offence. It prescribes a penalty of imprisonment up to three years for the offence, and provides for subsistence allowance to married Muslim women and their children. Opposition parties have vehemently protested against the bill in its current form.