Chidambaram blames migrants for Delhi crime, retracts

Monday, December 13, 2010

NEW DELHI - Home Minister P. Chidambaram Monday blamed migrants living in Delhi’s unauthorised colonies for the capital’s rising crime graph, drawing flak from the opposition as well as his own Congress party. He quickly retracted the comment, saying I am a migrant myself.

Talking to reporters outside parliament on the rising crime incidents - particularly against women, the home minister said there was a “decline in crime in Delhi Nevertheless crime takes place because Delhi attracts a large number of migrants.”

“There are a large number of unauthorised colonies, and these migrants who settle in unauthorised colonies, carry a kind of behaviour which is unacceptable in any modern city. So crimes do take place,” Chidambaram said.

However, he did not contextualise the statement or specify why he was blaming outsiders for the crime in the capital.

The remarks come in the wake of a teenager being forced into a car and raped Saturday evening. This is the fourth case of gangrape in the last month, shocking Delhiites and raising concerns over the safety of women in the capital.

Chidambaram’s accusation on migrants invited criticism from his own party and opposition members, forcing him to issue a clarification.

I was asked a question about the recent incidents of rape in Delhi and the alleged failure of the Delhi Police. I gave a detailed reply. In the course of my reply, I made a matter-of-fact reference to migration, unauthorised settlements and behaviour that is unacceptable, he said in a statement.

I may point out that when using the word migrants, I did not refer to any state or region or language or race or religion. I am acutely conscious that every one who comes to work in Delhi is, in a sense, a migrant. I am a migrant myself.

The home minister said he was dismayed that some people have pounced upon the word migrant and triggered a controversy.

Nevertheless, I think the best way to put an end to any controversy would be to withdraw the whole of my answer to the question, and I do so.

The withdrawal comes after his earlier remarks invited criticism from all the parties.

“Chidambaram is not aware of the facts,” said Congress MP Sandeep Dikshit, who is the son of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and in whose East Delhi parliamentary constituency a large number of migrants are believed to reside.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) S.S. Ahluwalia described the home minister’s statement as “irresponsible”.

“This is an irresponsible statement from Chidambaram and condemnable. The Congress government is trying to pass on the buck for its failures,” Ahluwalia said.

Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad said law and order of the city was the home minister’s responsibility and the rising crime rate was “Chidambaram’s failure”. “I disapprove of the statement of the home minister,” Lalu Prasad said.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav also blamed the home minister for “trying to hide his failures”.

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