Criticising Sadhvi Pragya Thakur’s statement about slain Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare, Samir Kulkarni, another accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, said Sunday that he would have been cleared of all charges if Karkare had lived.
Thakur, who is the BJP’s candidate from Bhopal against Congress’ Digvijaya Singh, had said Thursday that Karkare lost his life because she had “cursed” him. Karkare was killed in the line of duty during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack and was also leading the probe into the Malegaon case, in which both Thakur and Kulkarni are among the accused.
Thakur later retracted her statement. Kulkarni, like Thakur, is currently out on bail.
On Sunday, Kulkarni led a group of activists and lawyers who held a press conference and urged people not to vote for the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), alleging that the two parties had “incarcerated many patriots” on the false pretext of “Hindu terrorism”.
The press conference was held less than two days before Pune goes to polls in the third phase of elections.
While addressing the media, Kulkarni said, “I heard about the Malegaon blasts only after being taken to the ATS police station at Kalachowki in Mumbai. I spent nine years in jail, where I was tortured even though I was completely innocent. Karkare told me he agreed that I had no connection with the crime. He said many people who were known to me might be persons of interest in the probe. So, he said they will conduct a test on me and release me in 15 days. He also asked me not to take a lawyer. Karkare promised me all this in the presence of (former Maharashtra DGP and police commissioner of Mumbai) Anami Roy. It is not only mine but this country’s misfortune that Karkare was martyred. Had he lived, I would have been exonerated in the case. I am sure that he would have dropped my name from the case at the time of filing the chargesheet because he knew I had nothing to do with it. But because he was martyred, I had to spend nine years behind bars.”
On Sadhvi Pragya’s statement on Karkare, Kulkarni said, “I think Sadhviji has realised she made a mistake by that statement and she has apologised for that. And why just Sadhvi, if anyone says anything wrong about our martyrs, I will never ever support or approve of it.”
He alleged, “In the history of independent India, a misdeed that even the invaders or British did not do, which was of labelling patriots as terrorists, was committed by senior leaders of Congress and NCP. They did it for dirty vote bank politics and Muslim appeasement. The proud Hindus from Pune, Maharashtra and the country should not vote for Congress and NCP. The victory of those currently in power is definite. This is the last election of Sharad Pawar, as well as for his family members. It is important that Pawar is defeated because it will be an atonement for his anti-Hindu politics.”
Rakesh Dhawade, another accused in the Malegoan blast who was present at the press conference, told the media, “I was tortured for 62 days and treated inhumanly. None of your human rights organisations came forward to help me back then. But the court discharged me from the case over a year ago. If these politicians come to power again, then the things that have happened to me will happen to others. That is why I urge people not to vote for these people. I have been acquitted in three cases and discharged from one. I am now facing trial only in the Nanded terror case.”