Congress leader Digvijaya Singh courted controversy on Saturday for his comments on 26/11, which invited criticism from slain ATS chief Hemant Karkare’s family, the BJP and the Shiv Sena and forced his own party to distance itself from his stand.
Singh recently said at a book release that Karkare had told him hours before the 26/11 attacks began that he had received death threats from those opposed to his probe into the Malegaon blast, in which Hindu groups were allegedly involved.
“When I called him (Karkare) he said he was receiving some threat calls. He did not know who was calling. An article was published in a magazine linked to the RSS against his son. It alleged his son had got some R50 crore contract from Dubai, while his son was just 17,” Singh said.
After drawing huge criticism, Singh backtracked on Saturday, but still stuck to the line that Karkare was “harassed by BJP leaders.”
“I do not want to politicise this. 26/11 is not an operation by a Hindu group,” he said.
“I have no doubt he (Karkare) was killed by Pakistani terrorists but BJP leaders, including Rajnathji, had questioned his integrity. The fact remains that Karkare was harassed by BJP leaders,” Singh said.
The attempt at damage control did not work.
Kavita Karkare, wife of the slain cop, accused Singh of playing votebank politics and denied any conversation had taken place between her husband and Singh. She said it was wrong to link Hindu groups to 26/11. “Such statements will mislead people and benefit Pakistan. The mockery of my husband’s sacrifice for political gain should stop,” she said.
“When my husband was probing the Malegaon blast and looking for Hindu accused, there were reactions from Hindu organisations. Similarly, when, earlier, he was looking for Muslim accused, there was reaction from that community,” she said, calling such reactions “natural.”
The Congress distanced itself from Singh’s comments. Its spokesperson Janardan Dwivedi said, “This is regarding a conversation between two individuals. Unfortunately, one of them, Karkare, is no more with us. So Digvijay Singh will be in a better position to comment on his statement.”
The BJP called Singh’s statement a “serious blow” to India’s fight against terror and an attempt to divert attention from scams facing the UPA government. “Why did Singh keep silent for two years? And with Mrs Karkare disapproving of such a statement, he should find better ways to gain publicity and not make statements which harm national security,” BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
The Shiv Sena demanded a probe into the matter.