The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) on Wednesday filed police complaints in various districts of Tamil Nadu against newly-inducted BJP member Khushboo Sundar for allegedly making derogatory remarks against people with disabilities.
As per media reports, Khushbu, who joined the BJP on Monday after leaving the Congress, said she has exited a "mentally retarded" party. NPRD general secretary Muralidharan said complaints have been lodged against the politician in nearly 30 police stations over her offensive remark. The complaints have been filed in Chennai, Kanjipuram, Chengalpet, Madurai, Coimbatore, Tirupur among other places.
The NPRD official said while Khushboo has every right to politically speak against her opponents, the usage of terms that portrays disability in a negative light is "unacceptable". People holding public offices often make use of negative terms to tarnish the image of political opponents, lending them legitimacy. But this cannot be tolerated, he said, condemning Khushboo’s remarks.
Muralidharan said people need to be reminded that such insults are also prohibited by law and filing complaint against high-profile individuals would help in sending across the message that such remarks would not be tolerated.
After being criticised for using the term against her political rivals, Khushbu Sundar issued an apology stating her remarks were made in a moment of ‘haste and anguish.’ Expressing disappointment by the distress caused to people through her comment, the BJP leader assured that it would not repeat again.
In her statement, Khushbu said, "I’m terribly sorry for the incorrect use of a couple of phrases in a moment of hastiness, deep distress and anguish. Being a self-made woman, the insinuation that I was being directed and influenced by significant others in my decisions was both objectionable and misogynistic. I have struggled with mental health concerns in my own family and have friends who are capable leaders, insightful and dynamic and living with bipolar disorder and depression. For their friendship and wisdom, I’m richer! Not just am I sensitive to diversity amongst people, but value it and have gained hugely from it."
"I realise that many leaders in the past have also made similar references and as much as I am disappointed by the inadvertent distress that I have caused many, equally I am now determined to ensure that I do not repeat this ever, whatever the motivation. I also dedicate myself to ensure that the voices of those with psychosocial disability are valued and heard, as they should be."
It remains to be seen if the NPRD will withdraw its complaints after her apology.