New Delhi: Malegaon bomb blast accused Pragya Thakur – the latest to join the ranks of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) – said on Friday that it was her curse that took the life of Hemant Karkare, the Mumbai Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) chief who died fighting terrorists during the 26/11 Mumbai attack.
“I told him ‘You will be destroyed,’ and just over a month later, terrorists killed him,” Thakur, a self-proclaimed ‘sadhvi’, can be heard saying to a crowd in a video released by news agency ANI, which also shows BJP leaders applauding her statement.
Thakur is the BJP’s candidate for the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency. She is expected to file her nomination from there on April 23.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal hit out at the BJP leader for her comment, saying that it showed the party’s “true colours” and that it “must be shown its place now.”
Not just the opposition, BJP’s national spokesperson, Shahnawaz Hussain criticised the statement, saying: “Those who died for the country, we consider them martyrs. We don’t raise questions on their martyrdom.”
Karkare, as chief of the Mumbai ATS, had investigated charges levied against Thakur in the 2008 blasts in Malegaon. According to Thakur, the investigation team called on Karkare and told that if he didn’t have evidence against her, she should be let go. But, she says, the ATS chief responded: ‘I’ll do anything. I will bring proof, from here or there, but I won’t let Sadhvi go.’”
“You won’t believe it,” she then goes on to boast, “but I told him ‘tera sarvanaash hoga (you will be destroyed).’ And just over a month later, terrorists killed him.”
Karkare, along with senior police officials Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar, was killed after Ajmal Kasab and his partner Abu Ismail opened fire at their police van during the terror attack in Mumbai on November 26, 2008.
Karkare was the first officer to investigate the Malegaon blasts on September 29, 2008, in which six people were killed and over 100 injured. While Thakur was taken into custody the same year, she was let off by the National Investigation Agency in 2015 for lack of evidence. The trial court, however, refused to let her off.
The court dropped charges against her under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act but is trying her under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. She is currently out on bail.
The IPS Association released a statement, saying Karkare made the “supreme sacrifice fighting terrotists”. It condemned the “insulting statement” made by Thakur and demanded that the sacrifices of all martyrs be respected.
Ashok Chakra awardee late Sri Hemant Karkare, IPS made the supreme sacrifice fighting terrorists. Those of us in uniform condemn the insulting statement made by a candidate and demand that sacrifices of all our martyrs be respected.
— IPS Association (@IPS_Association) April 19, 2019
According to the news agency ANI, the Madhya Pradesh chief electoral officer has received a complaint against Thakur for her comments. The CEO said the commission has taken cognizance of the issue and an enquiry is underway.
The BJP also released a statement, saying it considers Karkare a martyr. The comments made by Thakur was a “personal statement”, the party said, adding that she may have made them because of the “mental and physical torture” she faced.
BJP releases statement over the remarks made against late Hemant Karkare by BJP LS candidate for Bhopal, Pragya Thakur; says, “BJP considers him a martyr. This is Sadhvi Pragya’s personal statement which she might have given because of the mental & physical torture she had faced” pic.twitter.com/CNr5n5EbDl
— ANI (@ANI) April 19, 2019