Sadhvi Pragya Thakur’s remarks against former Mumbai Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare invoked sharp political reactions on Friday, while the BJP distanced itself from her statement. On Thursday, Thakur, who is also the BJP candidate against Congress’ Digvijaya Singh in Bhopal, said that Karkare lost his life because she had cursed him. Karkare had died fighting terrorists during 26/11 Mumbai attack. He was leading the probe into the Malegaon attack case.
Distancing itself from the remarks made by its Lok Sabha contestant from Bhopal, the BJP said in a press statement today that it has always considered Karkare as a martyr and the comments made by Sadhvi are her personal thoughts since she underwent years of physical and mental torture. “BJP considers him a martyr. This is Sadhvi Pragya’s personal statement which she might have given because of the mental and physical torture she had faced,” the party statement read.
Sadhvi Pragya had compared the Ashok Chakra awardee with Ravan and Kans and said he was killed during 26/11 Mumbai attacks because he was cursed for arresting her. In a public meeting in Madhya Pradesh, Thakur on Friday said that she had warned Karkare that he would be destroyed and that’s exactly what happened.
“You won’t believe. I told him you will be destroyed. He tortured me and abused me. It was intolerable. When a child is born, we observe sutak (an abstention from rituals for a period of 10 days to one and a half months). The day I was picked up by ATS, Karkare got cursed by Sutak. And in 40 days, the day terrorists killed him, the sutak was over. During Ram’s reign, there was Ravan. His end was engineered by sanyasis. In dwapar era came Kans. He jailed sanyasis. They cursed him. And he was killed by Krishna,” Thakur, who is facing trial under charges of terrorism for engineering a blast in Maharashtra’s powerloom town of Malegaon in 2008, said.
Sadhvi’s remarks gave the Opposition an opportunity to launch a fresh attack on the BJP, terming her comment as ‘disgraceful’ and slammed the ruling party for spreading ‘negative politics’.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the remark was an insult to every soldier who has sacrificed his life for the country while fighting terrorism.
“Modi ji, only BJP leaders can commit the crime of declaring 26/11 martyr Hemant Karkare a traitor,” Surjewala said on Twitter. “This is an insult to every Indian soldier who has sacrificed his life for Mother India while fighting terrorism. Apologise to the country and take action against Pragya,” he added.
Taking to Twitter, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said: “Disgraceful comments by BJP’s Bhopal Lok Sabha candidate Pragya Thakur on 26/11 martyr Hemant Karkare ji need to be condemned in strongest terms. BJP is showing its true colours & it must be shown its place now.”
RJD leader Tejashvi Yadav echoed similar sentiments, accusing the BJP of indulging in politics of ‘lies’.
“People like her are spreading negativity in politics. BJP’s ideology is the same as Sadhvi Pragya’s. BJP is indulging in politics of falsehood and lies,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, however, refrained from making any comments on Thakur’s remarks. Singh said, “Hemant Karkare was a dedicated officer. He laid down his life for the country and we should be proud of him. No one should comment on it.”
Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said that though Karkare was killed in the line of duty, that doesn’t deprive Sadhvi Pragya of complaining against physical and mental torture in custody. “While Karkare was killed in the line of duty and hence is a martyr. But that does not deprive Sadhvi Prayag of her right of moral outrage for the physical torture and shame of being stripped that she was subjected to extract a compliant confession,” he wrote on Twitter.
Apart from the political parties, the IPS Association also condemned the remarks made by Pragya, today. “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,” the association tweeted.
On Thursday, Pragya broke down during a public appearance, a day after her candidature was announced by the BJP while narrating the torture she was allegedly subjected to while in custody. The 49-year-old alleged that she was mercilessly beaten from day one by her interrogators, using a belt with a wooden handle that made her nervous system go numb.
“I called Hemant Karkare and asked him to let me go if there is no evidence (against me). He (Karkare) said that he will bring evidence but will not leave me. I told him — You will be ruined,” Sadhvi Thakur said in a video released by ANI.
She added that Karkare had asked her if he should go to God to get proof of her conviction in the terror case. Responding to him, Thakur said that if he feels, he should go. After that the former ATS officer was killed, she claimed.
-With ENS and PTI inputs