August 10, 2017 / 2:09 PM / 10 days ago

Son of BJP politician jailed for stalking after uproar

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An Indian court on Thursday sent the son of a leading politician to police custody for harassing and trying to abduct a woman, in a case that has embarrassed the ruling party as it runs a campaign on women's safety.

The woman said Vikas Barala, son of Subhash Barala, president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Haryana, and an associate tried to force open the door of the car she was driving home last weekend.

One BJP leader on Monday blamed the victim for being out late, triggering a backlash on social media and prompting the party to distance itself from such comments and say the law would take its course.

The opposition Congress party this week accused the BJP, which runs both Haryana and the central government, of shielding Vikas and mocked Prime Minister Narendra Modi's campaign to "save the girl child, educate the girl child".

The court in Chandigarh, capital of Haryana, on Thursday sent Barala and his friend to two days' custody.

Bir Kumar Yadav, BJP spokesman in Haryana, denied there had been any attempt to influence the investigation and rejected calls from Congress to sack Subhash Barala as state party chief. Barala could not be reached for comment.

"There's no political influence to dilute the case. It's an individual incident with no links to the party or its campaign on safety for women," Yadav said.

Haryana has one of most unbalanced sex ratios in the country because of a high rate of abortion of female foetuses. Modi launched the national programme to "save the girl child" from the state in 2015.

BJP's national spokesman, GVL Narasimha Rao, said protecting girls and women remained an "article of faith" for the party.

"No laxity will be shown to anyone endangering women's security, whatever be their familial association," Rao told Reuters.

Editing by Andrew Roche

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