An old video of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's statement linking loss of billions of dollars through tourism due to "a small incident of rape" has gone viral on messaging app WhatsApp. In the video Jaitley is seen as saying, "One small incident of rape in Delhi advertised world over is enough to cost us of billions of dollars in terms of lower tourism."
[video width="400" height="400" mp4="https://www.boomlive.in/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/arun-jaitleys-statement.mp4"][/video]
Several readers of BOOM sent us the video asking if Jaitley indeed had made such an insensitive statement. And if he did give such a statement, was it a recent or an old one?
A poster in Kannada was also being shared on social media where Jaitley is supposed to having said “The rape of an eight-year -old is a minor incident. Making it big will have a negative impact on Indian tourism.” A Facebook user Preethi Nagaraj called it out as fake and requested readers not to share them.
BOOM can confirm that there are no statements from Jaitley linking the Kathua rape to its negative impact on tourism. However on Google search, we found several articles from August 2014. One of the links led us to a video posted by NDTV on Youtube with the headline "'One small incident': Arun Jaitley's controversial comment on Delhi gang-rape."
Arun Jaitley said this as part of his speech at a tourism ministers' conference in August, 2014, attracting a lot of criticism. Many were disappointed and said that it was very insensitive of the minister to say something like that.
Salman Khurshid on Arun Jaitley's remark: It was not a small incident, it was an incident that crushed small hopes and desires of someone
— ANI (@ANI) August 22, 2014
Delhi: Women Congress workers protest against Finance Minister Arun Jaitley pic.twitter.com/UTlZeke0YJ
— ANI (@ANI) August 22, 2014
Nirbhaya's mother had also reacted sharply to the statement and said, "He has disappointed me. During elections they had used Nirbhaya's name for political gains and after coming into power they call it a small incident," as reported by The Times Of India.
However soon thereafter, Arun Jaitley clarified his statement and expressed regret, according to a report by NDTV. The report said, " Today, Mr Jaitley said he never talked about any specific incident. "I regret that some word that I used was construed as insensitive, that was never my intention. I have been always been very outspoken about issues relating to crime against women. I am very sensitive to these issues myself," said the 61-year-old, one of the senior most ministers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government."
Interestingly, the Press Information Bureau (PIB) put out the speech copy of Jaitley on the same day after deleting the word 'small' and replacing 'billions' with 'millions.'
The 23-year old paramedic student was brutally assaulted and gang raped by her assailants on December 12, 2012 in a moving bus in Delhi. The assailants had also assaulted her male friend who survived the attack but the woman who was named Nirbhaya by the media, had succumbed to her injuries several days later.
The brutal incident had not just caused major uproar in India but also across the globe and had brought to light the lack of safety for women in the country. This incident also caused the then UPA government to make amendments in the existing rape laws making it more stringent.
Note: A previous version of the article erroneously said caused instead of cost in the headline. The error is regretted.