Farooq Abdullah
Omar Abdullah escorting his dad Farooq AbdullahReuters

Union Minister Farooq Abdullah apologised and bit back the controversial remark he made earlier on Friday about not hiring or talking to women for fear of ending up in jail.

"If I have hurt sentiments then I am sorry for that, I never meant it that way. There should not be any gender bias. I am sorry," he told ANI.

The minister landed in fresh controversy after commenting on the sexual harassment allegations against retired Supreme Court judge A K Ganguly, who had been indicted by a SC panel. "The incident of rapes and sexual assault on women have risen so much that I am scared of speaking to women these days. You never know what lands you in jail today," Abdullah said.

The National Conference chief added, "That's the reason why I don't even think of keeping a woman secretary."

Abdullah drew instant criticism among the political fraternity as he made those remarks.

"I am happy that such people are now feeling scared, " Siromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal said.

Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien, who has asked the former SC judge to step down from his post of Chairman at WB Human Rights Commission, expressed shock over the remarks. "He is a senior public figure. he is father of a daughter. It was quite unexpected Dr Abdullah has said this," he said.

Even Omar Abdullah, son of Farooq and J&K Chief Minister, asked his father to apologise for his remarks.

"I'm sure the attempt wasn't to trivialise important issue of women's security so I hope dad apologises for the misplaced attempt at humour," Omar said.

However, the senior Abdullah denied to have apologised under the influence of his son. "I was in the Parliament. How could I have talked to Omar during that time? Mujhe kyun phasa re ho, pehle Modi tha ab main (Why are you trying to corner me, first it was Modi now me!)" Farooq Abdullah said.