Pragya Singh Thakur, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate from Bhopal Lok Sabha seat, on Sunday told the Election Commission that she did not make any defamatory comments against former Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare. The poll panel had issued a notice to Thakur last week for saying that she cursed Karkare leading to his death in the 26/11 attacks.

“My statement should be understood not by taking a sentence out of context but by reading it in full,” Thakur told the poll panel. “I spoke about the torture inflicted on me on orders of the then Congress government. I have a right to tell the people what had happened to me.”

Thakur is an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts, in which six people were killed and 101 injured. She is facing charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and other sections of the Indian Penal Code. The Bombay High Court had granted bail to her in April 2017, noting that she had been in jail for more than eight years and was suffering from breast cancer.

The BJP candidate claimed that the media had shown her remarks in a negative light. “Taking people’s sentiments into account, I withdrew my statement,” Thakur added. She denied violating the Model Code of Conduct.

On Sunday, the poll panel sent Thakur another notice, after she claimed that she had climbed on top of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya in 1992 to destroy the structure. Thakur also said she was very proud of her actions. The Babri mosque was demolished on December 6, 1992.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer VL Khantarao has granted Thakur time till Monday afternoon to reply to the second notice, the Hindustan Times reported. “We have received a report and we have forwarded it to Election Commission of India for a final decision on the same,” Khantarao said.

“It’s a violation of the model code of conduct as she attacked our security forces,” Madhya Pradesh Congress spokesperson JP Dhanopia said. “There should be a first information report against her and she should be punished for the objectionable remark.”

Surgical strikes commander condemns Thakur’s statement

Meanwhile, Lieutenant General DS Hooda (retired), who oversaw the surgical strikes across the Line of Control on September 29, 2016, on Sunday condemned Thakur’s remarks against Karkare, NDTV reported. “Yes, it hurts,” he said. “Any martyr, police or Army, he must get all respect. These utterances are not good. The Election Commission has said you cannot use military people or issues for political purposes.”

Eight former director generals of police issued a statement condemning the BJP leader’s remarks. The signatories were Julio Ribeiro, Prakash Singh, PK Hormis Tharakan, Kamal Kumar, Jacob Punnoose, Sanjeev Dayal, Jayanto Choudhury and N Ramachandran, PTI reported.

“Despicable and regrettable statement of Pragya Thakur only serves to highlight the need to publicly recognise the supreme sacrifice made by the 35,000 police personnel from all corners of India who since Independence have laid down their lives in the line of duty,” they said. “The country owes him [Karkare] a huge debt of gratitude and anything that detracts from this is worthy of strong condemnation.”

The former police officers said Karkare would not have died had he not returned from a lucrative posting at the Centre to work with the Maharashtra ATS. They added that Lok Sabha candidates should seek out and visit the families of martyrs in their constituencies.