The alleged gang rape at Hathras heat up the political scene in West Bengal on Thursday with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee equating the late-night cremation of the victim with Sita's 'Agni Parikasha' (in the Ramayana) and Congress staging state-wide protests.
The Bengal BJP accused Banerjee of "double standards" and slammed her for remaining silent when similar incidents took place in the state.
Addressing a government programme in the Jalpaiguri district, the TMC supremo questioned the role of police in BJP-ruled the Uttar Pradesh in handling the case that has led to outrage across the country.
"Once Goddess Sita had to go through 'Agni Pariksha' (test by fire). Now in UP, the Dalit woman was raped and her body was put on a funeral pyre," Banerjee said.
"If a crime takes place action has to be taken within 72 hours like we have done. What kind of an administration is this under which the body of the woman was cremated in the dead of the night when no proceedings were initiated (against the accused)," she added.
Banerjee alleged that the mother of the woman was also threatened by perpetrators of the crime that she too would be cremated on the same pyre along with her daughter.
Earlier in the day, she tweeted "Have no words to condemn the barbaric & shameful incident at Hathras involving a young Dalit girl. My deepest condolences to the family."
"More shameful is the forceful cremation without the family's presence or consent, exposing those who use slogans & lofty promises for votes," she said on Twitter slamming the BJP.
In an oblique reference to the former BJP president and Union Home Minister Amit Shah having lunch at the house of Dalit families in Bengal in 2018, Banerjee said "So many atrocities are taking place against Dalits. During elections, some leaders go to their (Dalits) houses with food brought from outside and pretend to have lunch or dinner there.
"After the polls are over, they perpetrate acts of cruelty on them," she said.
Trinamool Youth Congress president and MP Abhishek Banerjee took to Twitter to express himself about the cremation of the gang rape victim.
"She couldn't live with dignity & BJP UP Govt ensured she didn't die with dignity either. Absolutely monstrous to not allow the mother to see her child for one last time," he said.
"This is the shameful reality of @BJP4India harping on sweet talks of women empowerment & Beti Bachao Beti Padhao." Abhishek, who is Mamata Banerjee's nephew, said.
Reacting to the criticisms, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh asked Banerjee and other TMC leaders to "stop shedding crocodile tears".
"Under the TMC regime, crimes against women have gone up in the state. They should first set their own house in order and then lecture others. Why were they silent when similar incidents take place in Bengal?" he asked.
The West Bengal Congress took out rallies across the state in protest against the incident.
In Kolkata, Congress workers blocked an arterial road at Central Avenue- M G Road crossing on Thursday on being stopped from marching to the state BJP headquarters, leading to a scuffle with the police, officials said.
Effigies of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath were burnt by Congress activists in various parts of the state.
The 19-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly raped by four upper-caste men in Hathras on September 14. She was referred to the Safdarjung hospital in Delhi on Monday with spinal cord injuries, paralysis and cuts in her tongue. She died around 3 am on Tuesday.
Her subsequent cremation in the dead of night at Hathras allegedly under police pressure on Tuesday has created outrage over the law and order situation in UP and safety of women.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)