Hema Malini defends her remarks on widows in Vrindavan

Mumbai: Actor-politician Hema Malini today sought to defend her remarks that widows from West Bengal and Bihar should not crowd Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh, saying she said this in the context of how they were being ignored in their home states and government not doing enough for them.

The 65-year-old BJP Lok Sabha MP also said she had not mentioned anything that she should be "ashamed of". Hema Malini, during a visit to her parliamentary constituency Mathura, had stoked a potential controversy when she said that Vrindavan, a holy town which is home to thousands of destitute women, should not be crowded by widows from other states like West Bengal and Bihar.

Hema Malini defends her remarks on widows in Vrindavan
Hema Malini

She had said that there are already 40,000 widows in Vrindavan, which is part of her constituency, and there was no room to accommodate more. The actress today defended her previous statement in a series of tweets, saying no one listened to her "actual interview" to the media.

"I haven't said anything that I should be ashamed of. I stand by my statement that they should be allowed to live with dignity. Sad state for a country once known for the respect shown to women. This is what I was trying to point out," she tweeted.

"It is traumatic to see these poor widows begging on the streets even for their daily existence. Have all of you ever witnessed their plight? Of course I intend doing what I can to improve their condition but Vrindavan has a space limitation too. State govt too should contribute," she added.

The actress said she had done nothing wrong by saying that "sons & daughters cannot discard their duty & cannot bundle them onto a train & forget about them". "For no fault of theirs, they are thrown on the streets & are compelled to beg to survive. Is ths fair? Do you think these old women deserve this fate? Also most are from West Bengal, Bihar & Orissa. My request was to these people to have a more humane approach & look after these poor widows properly.

She said that awareness should be created in states from where the widows belonged to. Pointing out that most of these women were "abandoned by family and put on trains to Vrindavan without any moneny", Hema Malini said most of them find jobs as maids or turn to begging.

"Younger ones are also exploited & then abandoned to their fate. Out of the 5000, only 1500 have a proper roof over their heads. The rest are on the streets, destitute & desperate. Of course, we are all Indians first, & have a duty towards the old in our country.

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