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Saturday, Aug 17, 2019

Opinion | On Pragya Thakur, some questions for the BJP

Terrorism is a serious charge even if you have not been convicted for it. The fact of the matter is that the courts refused to let the 2008 Malegaon blasts accused Pragya Thakur off the hook

opinion Updated: Apr 20, 2019 14:05 IST
Harinder Baweja
Harinder Baweja
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The 2008 Malegaon blast case accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur
The 2008 Malegaon blast case accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur(PTI file photo)
         

Terrorism is a serious charge even if you have not been convicted for it. The fact of the matter is that the courts refused to let the 2008 Malegaon blasts accused Pragya Thakur off the hook. Her motorcycle was allegedly used to transport explosives and for a blast that killed six people. It is not enough for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to put out the narrative that the “Sadhvi” was implicated by an overzealous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) keen on coining the adage of ‘saffron terror.’

The BJP has many uncomfortable questions to answer for why it got a terror suspect to join the ranks of the party overnight. The party might think it was a political masterstroke to field her against the Congress’s Digvijaya Singh in Bhopal, but what stands out instead is the fact that the ruling party is unwilling to pay heed to terror charges. What message is the government sending not just to investigating agencies but to the courts still hearing a case involving an act of terror? Will they proceed against her if she gets elected and finds a seat in the august house of Parliamentarians?

What, indeed, do the BJP leaders have to say to her now that she believes she cursed Hemant Karkare to death? Karkare was the head of Maharashtra’s anti-terrorism squad and was probing charges against her. He was shot dead in Mumbai in 2008 by Ajmal Kasab, one of ten terrorists, who held India’s financial nerve centre to ransom for close to 72 hours.

Is it the BJP’s case that “martyrs” should be differentiated on the basis of the work they were doing? The ruling party, led by its two stalwarts – Narendra Modi and Amit Shah – are running the fight for 2019’s big electoral battle on the issue of nationalism and in the name of the 40 Central Reserve Police Force troopers who were killed in a deadly blast in Kashmir’s Pulwama in February. How is their “martyrdom” at the hands of a human bomb less or more than Karkare’s who was killed by a terrorist who had taken the sea route from Pakistan?

“India first, self last” is what BJP leaders never tire of saying. How is Thakur’s entry into the electoral fray in India’s interest? Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, is not wrong when she says, “Imagine the anger if I’d fielded a terror accused. Channels would’ve gone berserk by now trending a mehboobaterrorist hashtag! According to these guys terror has no religion when it comes to saffron fanatics but otherwise all Muslims are terrorists. Guilty until proven innocent.”

There are some who believe Pragya Thakur is innocent until proven guilty but many would differ with that view. At the end of the day, she is a terror suspect and if she is so politically valuable, the BJP could have waited for the court case to conclude. It is not only the “liberals” (this one has been coined by the right-wing as an insult) who are gobsmacked by Thakur’s political debut. Her calling Karkare an “anti-national” who died because she cursed him is a bit too much for many to stomach.

Who is anti-national? Thakur or Karkare? No jury is needed to answer that one.

First Published: Apr 20, 2019 00:01 IST

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