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Indian outcry over rape remark by police chief

A remark on rape by India's top investigative police officer has prompted calls from rights campaigners and a senior politician that Ranjit Sinha resign. India has been in uproar for months over sexual violence.

The chief of India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Ranjit Sinha apologized publicly on Wednesday for saying: "If you can't prevent rape, you enjoy it."

All India Progressive Women's Association activist Kavita Krishnan called for Sinha to step down. Communist Party leader Brinda Karat said Sinha "should be prosecuted for degrading and insulting women."

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party called the remark "shocking."

Betting anology

Sinha made his remark Tuesday during a conference about illegal sports betting. He questioning whether police had enough resources to tackle such gambling and argued that the state could at least benefit by legalizing betting to collect tax revenue.

He then attempted to construct an analogy by saying: "If you can't prevent rape, you enjoy it."

Karat told reporters in New Delhi that it was "sickening that a man who is in charge of several rape investigations should use such an analogy."

Outrage over gang

India introduced tougher rape laws in March, including the death penalty for repeat offenders, amid continuing outrage over the fatal gang rape of a young woman on a Delhi bus last year.

Responding on Wednesday to what had become a lead story on Indian news channels, Sinha said: "I regret any hurt caused," adding that he comment had been taken out of context.

"I reiterate my deep sense of regard and respect for women and my commitment to gender issues," Sinha said.

In 2011, reported rapes amounted to more than 24,000. But activists say the real number is many times higher.

Before Tuesday's remark, Sinha's CBI was already facing widespread accusations of acting as a tool to pressure political rivals to the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which is nearing the end of its second term in office.

ipj/rc (Reuters, AP)