Minority Affairs Minister AR Antulay found himself facing fierce criticism on Wednesday after raising doubts whether former Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare had been killed by elements unhappy with his investigations in cases involving “non-Muslims”.
<b1>Karkare was independently investigating certain non-Muslims who were terrorists, Antulay said in an apparent reference to the Malegaon blast case in which Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and Lt Col Shrikant Purohit are allegedly involved. “Any person going to the root of the terror has always been the target”, Antulay said.
The minister’s remarks came under immediate and sharp attack from the BJP and the Shiv Sena. “The Prime Minister must clarify whether these remarks are an ‘individual misdemeanor or the collective wisdom of the cabinet’,” said BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy.
Sena member Ananth Geethe demanded a clarification from Chidambaram.
Later, in an apparent attempt to pacify, Antulay, instead shifted the focus on to “who had sent him (Karkare) in the wrong direction” on that fateful day.
“Who had sent them to Cama Hospital? What were they told that made them leave for the same spot in the same vehicle, Antulay asked, speaking at the Lok Sabha. “Superficially speaking, they (terrorists) had no reason to kill Karkare. Whether he (Karkare) was victim of terrorism? Or terrorism plus something.”
Suggesting a separate inquiry into the manner in which Karkare was killed, Antulay told reporters that it was “beyond his comprehension” why all the three officers (Karkare, Vijay Salaskar and Ashok Kamte) went together to one location instead of going to each of the other three spots — Hotel Taj, Oberoi and the Nariman House.
There is obviously more than what meets the eye, he said. “Whether he (Karkare) was a victim of terror or something else, I don’t know”, Antulay said, adding “I knew him personally and I salute him”.