The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday distanced itself from the controversial comments made by its candidate from Bhopal Lok Sabha seat Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur on former Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) Hemant Karkare, saying the party respects the late IPS officer.
BJP asserted that the comments of Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, were personal. The remarks were probably due to the “mental and physical torture” she underwent during investigation in the case, the party said.
“The BJP strongly believes that late Hemant Karkare attained martyrdom while fighting against the terrorists. BJP has always considered 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 said in a statement.
On Thursday, Thakur, who is the BJP candidate against Congress’s Digvijaya Singh in Bhopal, said that Karkare lost his life because she had cursed him.
“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,” she had said.
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The Indian Police Service (IPS) Association on Friday condemned the “insulting” statement made by Thakur.
“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 IPS Association wrote on their Twitter handle.
Thakur has also faced flak from the opposition parties over her controversial remarks.
BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said earlier today said that Thakur’s comment was her personal point of view and the party would not do politics on Karkare’s death.
“We respect every son and daughter of India who sacrificed their lives for the motherland. What Pragya ji has said that would evidently be her point of view perhaps because she herself underwent investigation. We salute the sacrifice of Karkare ji and won’t do politics on it,” he told ANI.
Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh’s Chief Electoral Officer VL Kantha Rao said a complaint was received against Thakur for her remarks. “The cognizance has been taken. The matter is under enquiry”, Rao said.
Thakur is among the seven accused facing trial in Malegaon blast case. Six people were killed and a dozen others were injured after a bomb placed on a motorcycle exploded in Maharashtra’s Malegaon on September 29, 2008.
She was arrested in 2008 but was given a clean chit by the National Investigation Agency in 2015 for lack of evidence. However, the trial court refused to let her off, saying it was difficult to accept since her motorcycle was used in the blast.
Thakur has been cleared of charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act and was granted bail by the Bombay High Court in 2017. But, she remains an accused under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.