People from all sections of the society in Andhra Pradesh held rallies across the state on Monday, to highlight the rising cases of sexual assault in the state and to instill fear among the perpetrators of such crimes.
Dubbing it 'Aadabiddaku Raksha ga kaduludam' (March to protect women and girls), Andhra Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu participated in a rally in the state's capital of Amaravati.
The rally was held days after a minor girl was raped by a 50-year-old rickshaw puller in Dachepalli in Guntur district, causing massive public outrage. The accused later committed suicide by hanging near the village.
Calling for publicly hanging the rapists, Naidu had earlier said his government would be tough in dealing with such criminals.
Addressing a large crowd on Monday, Naidu said, “Dachepalle incident should be the last one and for those resorting to such crimes, it will be their last day on the earth. Everyone should condemn such incidents. Change in the mindset of the people is the need of the hour. We should not treat woman as a plaything. We should respect them."
He also said that the state was mooting a sex offenders registry with details that it would put online.
Several politicians, bureaucrats and police officers also participated in different rallies held across the state.
Meanwhile, reports state that Nobel Peace Laureate and Children's Rights Activist Shri Kailash Satyarthi called Naidu and expressed his support for the movement.
Naidu also received the backing of anti-trafficking crusader Sunitha Krishnan, who took to Twitter, and said, "It is not common for a Chief Minister of a state to walk for 2.5 km as a mark of protest and commit to end sex crimes against women and children. Maybe he had political reasons, but to me he is a leader who had the guts to take a problem upfront and state his position."
However, YSRCP chief Jaganmohan Reddy lashed out at Naidu and accused him of shedding 'crocodile tears' for women.
“Chandrababu Naidu has been slumbering for the last four years even as atrocities and sexual offenses continued. As elections are nearing, he is shamelessly conducting such meetings, instead of taking measures to prevent atrocities on women,” Jagan said, while addressing a crowd in Krishna district as part of his Praja Sankalpa Yatra.