‘Take back my statement, apologise’: Sadhvi Pragya on Hemant Karkare remark
Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, the 2008 Malegaon blasts accused named as the BJP candidate from Bhopal, On Friday took back her statement on Hemant Karkare, the police officer who died fighting terrorists during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
In a statement, she said, “I felt that the enemies of the country were being benefited from it, therefore I take back my statement and apologise for it, it was my personal pain”, ANI quoted her as saying.
“He (Hemant Karkare) died from the bullets of terrorists from the enemy country, he is certainly a martyr,” she said.
Sadhvi Pragya had created a political furore with her remarks on Karkare saying that she had cursed him just a month before his death in the 26/11 Mumbai attack.
A few hours after a video of the candidate’s comments emerged, the Indian Police Service Association, a body that represents senior police officers in the country, also waded into the row to tell her off.
“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 tweeted on Friday. A senior police officer said the statement was a reflection of the deep hurt felt at the candidate’s effort to tarnish the memory of the senior police officer.
Karkare died in the gunfight with Pakistani terrorists during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. As chief of Mumbai’s anti-terror squad, he was leading a team of officers to stop the terrorists. He was posthumously named for Ashok Chakra, the military’s highest peacetime bravery award that was rarely awarded to civilians.
Pragya Thakur was arrested by Hemant Karkare with six other accused in connection with Malegaon blast case in which six people were killed and over 100 injured. She was arrested as the motorcycle that was used in the blast was registered in her name and spent several years in prison in this case.
Pragya Thakur, who is out on bail, was this week controversially named as the BJP candidate from Bhopal against the Congress’s Digvijaya Singh. The decision, reported to have been made on the recommendation of the RSS, has been targeted by the BJP’s critics.
The BJP candidate has claimed innocence of any role in the terror attack and blamed police officers of working under the influence of the Congress, which was in power when she was arrested.
At a party event on Thursday, she appeared to brag that she had cursed Hemant Karkare just a little over a month before he died in the terror attack.
“Mene kaha tera sarvnash hoga. (You will perish),” she told them.
The BJP candidate said Hemant Karkare used to ask her “how and why it (Malegaon blasts) happened and I used to reply that only God knows. Karkare would then ask me sarcastically whether he needed to go to God’s place to know the truth. I told him that if required, you will have to go. He hurled abuses on me, harassed me, insulted me a lot.”
“Hindus believe that that a period of one and a half month after anyone’s birth or death is of ritual impurity. When Karkare asked me these questions, this period started for him and ended with him being killed by terrorists,” she said, according to news agency IANS.
Congress leader Sanjay Jha accused Thakur of mocking Karkare’s death while AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal called the comments “disgraceful”
MIM President Asaduddin Owaisi also questioned the BJP. “Hemant Karkare died fighting people not very different from yourself. He didn’t die because a terror accused ‘felt bad’ and ‘cursed’ him. The man died fighting to protect our rights to vote and elect a government. How dare BJP insult our martyrs like this?” he asked.
“What she is saying is from her personal experience, the party cannot comment on that,” BJP spokesperson in Bhopal Rajneesh Agrawal said.