New Delhi: On a day when she clarified her stand to the Election Commission on her comments about Mumbai anti-terror squad chief Hemant Karkare, Malegaon blast case accused and Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from Bhopal, Pragya Thakur, was served another notice by the district election office. This time, she has been questioned for her remark that she was “proud of the Babri Masjid demolition”.
The explanation has been sought by Bhopal district election officer Sudham Khade. The same DEO had earlier issued her a notice for violating the model code of conduct in connection with her statement on Karkare.
Thakur boasted that she participated in the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya in 1992. In a television interview, she was quoted as saying: “We will build a Ram temple and we will build an imposing (temple). We had gone there to demolish the structure. I climbed up on the structure to raze it and I feel proud of this. God had given strength to us and we removed a scar on the face of the country.”
`Babri statement in violation of MCC’
The DEO asked Thakur to explain the comment within a day. The notice issued by the officer said: “The statement seems to be in violation of chapter 4 of the model code of conduct which states ‘No activity, which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different caste/communities/religious/linguistic groups, shall be attempted’.”
He also issued an advisory to all political parties to refrain from using objectionable language during the campaign.
Thakur has been quoted as saying in her defence that, “I talked of my Ram and religion. I will give a reply to the notice.”
Meanwhile, in response to the earlier notice on Karkare, she is reported to have stated that she has already taken back her statement. In a television programme, she was shown saying that Karkare died because of her “curse”.
‘I only described the torture inflicted on me’
In her defence, Thakur argued that she has “already taken back” her statement.
She also insisted that her statement was not a defamatory comment against Karkare, who was martyred in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack. Instead, Thakur said it was only a reference to how she was “tortured” during the previous Congress government in connection with the Malegaon blasts case.
“I didn’t pass defamatory comments against any martyr. I only described the torture inflicted on me on the orders of the then Congress government,” she told news agency ANI. “It’s my right to put before the public what had happened to me… But I have already taken back my statement.”
However, her statement drew a lot of flak from all quarters and even her own party, BJP, distanced itself from it.
Incidentally, her claim that she was torture has been rebuffed in the past. A former public prosecutor in the case, Rohini Salian, had gone on record to state recently: “First, a trial court found no evidence of torture or illegal detention in the case. So they (the accused) challenged the verdict in the High Court, which went through all the records – including medical reports – and rejected her appeal too.”
Former top cops term statement despicable
Thakur’s attack on Karkare has also been criticised by eight former director generals of police. In a statement issued on Sunday, these officers – Julio Ribeiro, Prakash Singh, P.K.H. Tharakan, Kamal Kumar, Jacob Punoose, Sanjeev Dayal, Jayanto N. Choudhury. and N Ramachandran – termed her comments to be “unfortunate remarks” on an officer who fell to terrorist bullets while defending his country.
“He would probably be alive today had he not volunteered to return to the Maharashtra cadre from a plum posting at the Centre with the specific intention of working with the Anti-Terror Squad to prevent and investigate the activities of terrorists so that the rest of us could sleep safe in our beds,” the officers said.
They added that “the country owes him a huge debt of gratitude” and “anything that detracts from this is worthy of strong condemnation.”
“This despicable and regrettable statement of Pragya Thakur only serves to highlight the need to publicly recognise the supreme sacrifice made by the 35,000 police personnel from all corners of India who since Independence have laid down their lives in the line of duty,” the officers added.