Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant's remarks on the gangrape of two girls triggered a row (File)
Two days after his comment on the gangrape of two minor girls triggered outrage, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has said his words were taken "out of context" and described himself "deeply pained and disturbed".
"My statement about the unfortunate incident was taken out of context. Both as head of a responsible government and as a father of a 14-year-old daughter, I was deeply pained and disturbed. Pain of this incident is inexplicable," Mr Sawant was quoted by news agency ANI.
"At no point, I've tried to deny the right to security provided by our law. Goa Police has been truly professional force, especially when it comes to security of women and children. They have already acted swiftly and arrested the accused," he added.
"Let me assure you that I shall ensure that the culprits get the most stringent punishment under the law. The safety of our citizens is always my government's top priority."
In comments made in the Goa Assembly on Wednesday, Mr Sawant blamed the parents for allowing their children to step out - they were on a beach 30 km from capital Panaji - late at night
"When 14-year-old children stay on the beach the whole night, the parents need to introspect. Just because children don't listen, we cannot put the responsibility on the government and police," the Chief Minister, who also heads the Home Ministry, had declared.
The comments triggered a furious outcry from opposition leaders, some of whom demanded Mr Sawant's resignation and claimed Goa had become more dangerous for women under BJP rule.
Senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala lashed out, tweeting: "And Chief Minister should quit and go home for such preposterous 'pearls of wisdom'!"
Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi called it "sick and brazen abdication of responsibility", tweeting: "'When 14-year-olds stay on the beach the whole night, the parents need to introspect' - Goa Chief Minister on gang rape on Goa Beach. This is sick and brazen abdication of responsibility to keep Goa safe. Shameless."
Goa Forward Party chief Vijai Sardesai, who this week announced an alliance with the Congress for next year's election, called the Chief Minister's remark "insensitive" and demanded an apology.
"The Chief Minister owes an apology to the parents of the minor girls. Such an irresponsible... insensitive statement... when actually he should be comforting the parents, giving them solace and courage by his timely action to prevent further such instances," he was quoted by ANI.
Four men - one a government employee - posed as policemen and raped the two girls after beating up the boys. The attack took place on Benaulim beach.
All four accused have been arrested.
During the discussion in the Assembly, one MLA had claimed an "influential person" was trying to protect the accused. Another alleged a minister was trying to influence the investigation.
Speaker Rajesh Patnekar expunged both remarks from the proceedings.
With input from ANI