Controversial Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from Bhopal (North) Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur on Friday launched a severe attack against former Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief late Hemant Karkare for allegedly implicating her in the Malegaon blast case and subjecting her to torture during interrogation. A video in which Thakur is heard cursing Karkare at a public meeting in Bhopal went viral on Friday. In the video, Thakur, who is an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, can be heard saying that she had cursed Karkare when the Indian Police Service (IPS) officer was trying to get answers from her during interrogation. Pragya Singh Thakur says: “Maine kaha tera sarvanash hoga. Theek sava mahine mein sutak lagta hain. Jis din main gayi thi theek usi din iske sutak lag gaya tha. Aur theek sava mahine mein jis din atankwadiyon ne isko maara us din uska anth hua (I had told him that he will be destroyed. Sutak (a period of abstention in Hindu tradition after a death or birth in a family) comes into force within one month and a quarter of month. It came into force the day I was arrested. And exactly one and a quarter months later he was destroyed by the terrorists."
Incumbent BJP MP from Bhopal Alok Sanjar and BJP’s Bhopal city mayor Alok Sharma are seen on stage with Thakur when she makes the remarks.
Karkare and two other senior Mumbai cops Vinay Kamte and Vijay Salaskar were killed by Lashkar-e-Taiyyaba terrorists in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, during the 26/11 terror strikes. Karkare headed the ATS then and was investigating the Malegaon blast case in which a bomb had exploded in Malegaon in North Maharashtra on September 29, 2008, killing six persons and injuring around 100. The motorcycle laden with explosives was traced down to Surat in Gujarat by its registration plate and later to Thakur. However, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which took over the probe in 2011, exonerated Thakur in its 2016 charge-sheet. A special NIA court, however, did not uphold the exoneration and ordered in 2017 that she would face trial under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. In October 2018, the NIA court framed charges against Thakur and six others under the IPC and UAPA.
The bit about a complaint against her in the NIA court has been reported yesterday. On Friday, the Election Commission, while responding to a complaint filed by Congress worker Tehseen Punawala, said Thakur was only an accused and not a convict.
Meanwhile, after her remarks created a nationwide furore, Thakur sought to clarify in the evening issuing a statement that she was withdrawing her statement. "It was my personal anguish that I expressed. There was no intention to disrespect the martyrs. I respect all martyrs and their sacrifice," the statement said
Senior BJP leader Ram Madhav also told reporters in Delhi that "people have their personal traumas but they have to careful all the time when speaking about the martyrs. Martyrs, be it policemen, security forces or soldiers, should be respected and utmost respect should be given to them for their sacrifices," Madhav said.
News agency ANI reported on Friday evening that the Chief Electoral Officer, Madhya Pradesh, had received a complaint against Thakur over her remarks and the matter was under inquiry.