The governor of Uttar Pradesh (UP), India's most populous state, has sparked outcry after saying that "even God cannot prevent rapes".
Aziz Qureshi made the comment as he was being questioned by journalists about women's safety in the state.
"Not even God can prevent rapes," he said, adding that "there shouldn't be any politics on rape incidents."
Qureshi also urged journalists to stop criticising Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav for the high rate of violence in UP.
"Media must not keep questioning and condemning the UP government for crimes like rape. Akhilesh is trying to do his best. But it cannot be checked even after deploying police and military personnel across the state."
Following Qureshi's remarks, India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) State President Laxmi Kant Bajpai said: "The governor has diminished the dignity of his office. He must apologise to the people of Uttar Pradesh."
Qureshi's controversial comments came just weeks after Uttar Pradesh was shocked by the brutal murder of four girls who were raped and hung from mango trees.
The violent murders – which occurred shortly after the killing of a woman who was raped and burned with acid – sparked a global outcry and raised questions about women's safety and the efficiency of laws in Uttar Pradesh, where 2,500 rape cases were recorded in 2011.
Other Indian politicians have also made controversial remarks on sexual abuses.
Following global outrage over the death of the girls in UP, Babulal Gaur, a BJP minister, said "Sometimes [rape] is right, sometimes it's wrong".
The remark followed a previous comment by the head of the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, who told an election rally that he is opposed to gang rapists being executed.
"Boys will be boys," Mulayam Singh Yadav said. "They make mistakes."