Indian politician apologises after threatening opponent with rape
An Indian lawmaker apologised yesterday after he was captured on video threatening the rape of his political rivals' relatives, in what he said was "a gross error of judgement".
Tapas Pal of the All India Trinamool Congress Party admitted his remarks had caused "dismay and consternation" after initially denying the rape comment.
"I have no excuses to offer. It was a gross error of judgement and deeply insensitive," Pal, 55, said in a statement.
"It should not have happened. And I assure you it will not happen again," he added.
Amid widespread outrage in India over a series of recent high-profile rapes, Pal could be clearly heard bragging of his ability to order attacks against his left-wing opponents.
"If CPI-M (Communist Party of India - Marxist) tries to kill and intimidate our workers... I will not spare them. I will let loose my men to rape your women," he said in an address to followers in late May.
His comments drew widespread condemnation, including from Trinamool, which is the fourth largest party in parliament and whose support is concentrated in the state of West Bengal.
"We do not in any way endorse what he said," party spokesman Derek O'Brien told reporters.
Pal initially claimed he had been misquoted.
"I never said rape. I said raid. I said they should raid all the people and places, including women and old," he told CNN-IBN earlier yesterday.
However even his own wife Nandini said the lawmaker was out of line.
"I feel terrible about it. Whatever he has said, it is not right being a member of the parliament," she told reporters.