New Delhi, Feb 11 (PTI) A defiant Uma Bharti today stood by her controversial statement that rapists should be tortured “till their skin comes off” and stressed that those who commit crimes against women do not have human rights as “they are not human beings”.

In a letter to an English daily, the Union Water Resources Minister said she does not feel “even an iota” of pity for those who commit misdeeds against women. She claimed that she will give the “strictest” punishment to culprits, given a chance.

The senior BJP leader from poll-bound Uttar Pradesh also said she will not reveal names of those policemen who acted against the “culprits” on her instructions as then Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and expressed readiness to face punishment for the same.

Bharti was Chief Minister of the state between December 8, 2003 and August 22, 2004.

“I stick to whatever I said in the speech. The (state’s) Home Ministry was with me after I became Chief Minister…I will give strictest possible punishment to such people whenever I will get opportunity in future,” Bharti, who represents Jhansi Lok Sabha seat, said in the letter.

Taking an aggressive stand on the issue, the firebrand leader said she cannot mete injustice to innocents or stand such scenes, adding that she does not feel “even an iota” of pity for those who eve-tease and commit misdeeds against young girls or women.

“…I do not consider them as human beings. Ergo, I do not think they have human rights,” she said.

The minister said she could forgive anyone but was for the strictest punishment to those who insult women, handicapped, elderly and cows.

Addressing an election rally in Agra on February 9, Bharti had said rapists should be tortured “till their skin comes off” and accused the SP government of failing to provide justice to the victims of the Bulandshahr gangrape case.

Addressing an election rally here yesterday, she claimed that during her tenure as chief minister “when a rape incident happened, I got this done. Police officials told me that doing this was a violation of human rights. I replied that these ‘danavs’ (demons) do not have human rights”.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.