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Advani speaks up for sadhvi, seeks probe

The senior BJP leader ends his silence on the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, demanding a judicial probe into her allegation that she was tortured by Maharashtra ATS, reports Shekhar Iyer. Changing stand on Pragya

india Updated: Nov 19, 2008 02:29 IST
Shekhar Iyer
Shekhar Iyer
Hindustan Times

The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, LK Advani, has ended his silence on the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur on Tuesday, demanding a judicial probe into Sadhvi Pragya’s allegation that she was tortured by Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS).

Advani also demanded that the manner in which "unsubstantiated allegations have been made against serving Army personnel" Lt Col Srikant Prasad Purohit be also probed. He pitched for immediate changes in the ATS team of investigators, as it was acting “in a politically motivated and unprofessional manner”.

Both Sadhvi and Purohit have been arrested by ATS for their alleged role in the Malegaon blast on September 29.

Advani’s first open defence of Sadhvi Pragya and Purohit came after an ‘assessment’ by senior BJP leaders three days ago that the ATS was running aground with its probe to link Hindu groups as ‘directed’ by the Congress-run administration in Maharashtra.

His statement from Raipur echoed the stand of BJP chief Rajnath Singh, who was the first BJP leader to speak out on the issue. On Sunday, Singh addressed a gathering of top RSS leaders, assuring that his party would not “tolerate” humiliation of Hindu leaders.

Advani said, “I read the full text of Sadhvi Pragya's affidavit before the Nashik court. I cannot believe that such barbaric treatment has been meted out to a spiritual person, and that too a woman, in a country that prides itself on its democracy and rule of law.”

He said, “So far, I refrained from commenting on the allegations levelled by the Maharashtra ATS against Sadhvi Pragya and her supposed associates. But after going through her affidavit, detailing how she was physically and psychologically tortured and abused in obscene language by her interrogators, I have to express my shock and outrage which I am sure all Indians will share.”

On Monday, Advani alleged that the majority community had been linked to terrorism to woo the minorities. “We never linked terrorism with any religion,” he said, adding that no community should be defamed for the sake of votes.

“It is incredible that the Sadhvi was kept in illegal detention for two weeks while she was tortured in a vicious manner which led to her hospitalisation. Polygraph and narco tests were conducted without her consent. Not even a female constable was present during her illegal confinement,” he said.

First Published: Nov 18, 2008 17:20 IST