Sadhvi Pragya on Hemant Karkare

Bhopal: The IPS Association on Friday took strong exception to a comment by BJP candidate from Bhopal Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur where she said, having been tortured in the police custody, she had cursed Hemant Karkare.

The association of police officers took to Twitter to say: “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.”

BJP reasons comment of sadhvi

The BJP appeared in defence of their Bhopal candidate, saying the comment of the sadhvi must have been driven by the torture she faced when she was in jail for the 2008 Malegaon bombing.

The BJP, in a statement, said: “The BJP considers him (Karkare) a martyr. This is Sadhvi Pragya’s personal statement, which she might have given because of the mental and physical torture she had faced.”

BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain had earlier criticised the sadhvi‘s comment, saying, “Those who died for the country, we consider them martyrs. We don’t raise questions on their martyrdom.”

The opposition latched on to the opportunity to condemn both the ruling party and their candidate. They called the remark and the defence “disgraceful”.

Hemant Karkare story

Hemant Karkare had died fighting terrorists during the 26 November 2008 attack on Mumbai by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists of Lashkar-e-Taiba. As many as 166 people were killed in the attacks on Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (railway station), the Taj Hotel, Hotel Oberoi-Trident and other places of Mumbai.

Two months before that, Karkare, as the chief of Maharashtra’s anti-terror squad, had investigated Sadhvi Pragya’s role in Malegaon bombing. As reported yesterday, the sadhvi complained she was meted with inhuman torture in police custody.

“The investigation team called Hemant Karkare and said if you do not have evidence, let her go. He said I will do anything to get evidence against her. I won’t let her go. This was his kuteelta (cunning). He was anti-national. He was dharmvirodhi (anti-Hindu). You won’t believe, but I said, ‘tera sarvanash hoga‘ (you will be finished). Just after a quarter of a month, terrorists killed him,” Sadhvi Pragya had told journalists on 18 April.

Sutak

“I had told him you will be finished, and he was killed by terrorists in less than two months,” Sadhvi Pragya had said at a press conference on Thursday where she was joined by BJP leaders who burst into applause on hearing her words.

“That day, there was a sutak (inauspicious occasion). That sutak ended the day he was killed,” she said, giving examples of mythical villains killed because of the curse of saints.

Sutak is a period following a birth or death in a family that is observed for a period from 10 to 30 days depending on the caste of the affected family. While many consider it blind faith, some reason that the idea behind the observance is to offer women in the household some rest.

The Malegaon case

Malegaon is a town 250 km from Mumbai. Karkare was the first officer in the investigating team in the case of the blasts in the town on 29 September 2008 that had claimed six lives and injured 101. Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya and others were arrested and charged with plotting the blasts.

However, for six years of the Congress-led UPA rule, the prosecution could not prove the charges.

Sadhvi Pragya, the first accused in the Malegaon case, was given a clean chit by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in 2015. The trial court, however, refused to let her off.

The NIA found no evidence against the sadhvi. The court insisted she could not be let off because her motorcycle was used in the bombing.

What the court had to do, following the law of the land, is drop charges against her under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA). But the trial is on under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. She was granted bail by the Bombay High Court in 2017 on health grounds.

She joined the BJP this week and was immediately named as the party’s candidate from Bhopal for the election.