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Rape stir: PM's speech sparks new row

Posted on Dec 24, 11:42PM | IBNS

As protests over the gang-rape of a woman in New Delhi continue to roil the country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday sparked a fresh row as at the end of his speech asking for calm, he was heard asking "theek hai?".

The bit, where Singh seems to ask his staff if his address was alright, was also inadvertently broadcast at the end of his speech, sparked a furore on social networking websites Twitter and Facebook.

A class of netizens, already furious with the administration over the incident, inferred the piece as an apparent sign that the government was insincere in its attempts to stop crimes against women.

By Monday afternoon #theekhai, #meekhai, #bheekhai started trending on the Twitter's India page along with Manmohan. Around an hour later, #theekhai was trending worldwide.

"No Mr Prime Minister it is no longer#TheekHai. We are done with this status quo, chalta hai attitude," a user tweeted, adding to the criticism of the speech that was drubbed as too mechanical.

In his address, Singh had assured action and made an appeal to people to maintain peace in the wake of Sunday's protester-cop clashes that left more than 140 people, including nearly 80 policemen injured.

Speaking to the nation in televised message, Singh said: " As the father of three daughters myself, I feel as strongly about this as each one of you."

"My wife, my family and I are all joined in our concern for the young woman who was the victim of this heinous crime. We are constantly monitoring her medical condition. Let us all pray for her and her loved ones during this critical time," he said.

"I feel deeply sad at the turn of event leading to clashes between protesters and police forces," he said adding that though the anger was justified, violence would serve no purpose.

Singh assured that the government would take all measures to ensure the security and safety of women.

"I appeal to all sections of the society to maintain peace and help us in our efforts," he said.

Protests had flared across India last week after a 23-year-old medical student was brutally assaulted and raped by six men on a moving bus in New Delhi and then thrown off along with her male friend on Nov 16.

The victim, currently being treated at the Safdarjung Hospital, is reported to be conscious and responding to treatment, but doctors said that they were worried about the infection in her blood.