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Author Topic: Indian minister blames migrants for Delhi crime  (Read 701 times)

Indian minister blames migrants for Delhi crime
« on: December 13, 2010, 09:23:53 AM »
AFP - 21 minutes ago

Indian minister blames migrants for Delhi crime

NEW DELHI (AFP) - – India's home minister on Monday blamed migrants for crime in New Delhi after a string of gang rapes shocked residents, but swiftly retracted the remarks after they stirred an outcry.

"Crime takes place because Delhi attracts a large number of migrants," said P. Chidambaram, whose ministry is responsible for law and order in the sprawling city of 14 million people.

"There are a large number of unauthorised colonies and these migrants who settle in unauthorised colonies carry a kind of behaviour that is unacceptable in any modern city, so crimes do take place," he told reporters in New Delhi.

Some 50 percent of people in the capital live in slums or informal settlements, according to New Delhi's Municipal Development Corp.

The remarks drew fire from political opponents and were seen causing discomfort in the ruling Congress party, which is out of power in the populous states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where many migrants originate.

Hours later the minister, who hails from southern Tamil Nadu state, sought to defuse the controversy in a statement.

"I have nothing against migration or migrants, being a migrant myself," he said. "I was pointing to 'behaviour that is unacceptable'."

The furore came after an 18-year-old woman in a New Delhi suburb was forced into a car by four men and raped at the weekend before being released.

It was the fourth case of gang rape in a month and came amid a media focus on assaults, murders and violent break-ins in the capital, which has one of the highest crime rates in the country.

Chidambaram sought in his original comments to allay fears, saying crime rates were on the fall.

Lashing out at the minister's initial claim, Bihar regional party leader Lalu Prasad Yadav said Chidambaram was "passing the buck for his failure" to control crime in Delhi.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, who champions the cause of poor and low-caste Indians, had implored him to "apologise to the people of the country".

Chidambaram's remarks reflected a popular prejudice that migrants were responsible for crime, experts said.

"They're an easy target," said Shivani Chaudhry, associate director of the Housing and Land Rights Network.

"There is stigmatisation of these low-income people, who are blamed for crimes when they themselves are often victims of crimes police don't take seriously."

"They live in the streets, they're subjected to robbery and assault, women are affected by sexual violence," she told AFP.

Hundreds of thousands of impoverished Indians migrate annually to New Delhi in search of jobs with many finding shelter in make-shift colonies.

In India's commercial hub Mumbai, migrants are also routinely blamed for crime and even disease by the far-right Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena political party, which fights for the rights of local Marathi people.

Anupama Datta, deputy head of the National Slum Dwellers' Federation, added there were "absolutely no statistics to back up the minister's claims", noting many high-profile crimes in recent years were committed by the middle or upper classes.
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