A group of 200 people from Maharashtra, including family members of victims of the 2008 Malegaon blasts and activists, will travel to Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh to campaign against Bharatiya Janata Party’s Lok Sabha candidate Pragya Singh Thakur, The Indian Express reported on Thursday.
Thakur, who is an accused in the blast case, will contest against Congress’ Digvijaya Singh. Bhopal will vote on May 12.
The group is led by retired Bombay High Court Judge BG Kolse Patil. “I will be going to Bhopal to campaign against Thakur,” Patil said. “There is sufficient evidence against her. We will be reading out the evidence before the voters.”
Patil said Thakur was associated with the deaths of innocent people, according to Pune Mirror. “The evidence against her is substantial,” Patil said. “She was present at all four meetings of the group that conspired to carry out the blasts.”
Social activist Anjum Inamdar said the group will include six people from the families of those who died in the blasts or those who were injured. Inamdar said Abdul Wahid Shaikh, who was an accused in the 2006 Mumbai train blasts and later acquitted, and Tariq Baig, brother of German Bakery bomb blast accused Himayat Baig, will join the group. “We would be exposing the Hindutva terror plot and we appeal the voters to vote against Thakur,” Inamdar said.
Retired Indian Police Service officer Suresh Khopade said it was unfortunate that people welcomed Thakur and Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Purohit, who is also accused in the Malegaon blasts, with a “shower of rose petals” when they appeared before the trial court in Pune. “We want to expose their reality.”
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said he will look into the alleged torture that Thakur faced in jail if she lodges a complaint, The Hindu reported on Wednesday. Fadnavis reiterated the party believed that cases against her were false, but said she was wrong in commenting against former Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare. Thakur had said that she had cursed Karkare leading to his death in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
The Congress, however, accused BJP chief Amit Shah of justifying Thakur’s comments against Karkare, saying it was an insult to every soldier and police officer in the country, PTI reported. On Tuesday, Shah had said that Thakur was framed in false cases by those who had coined the term “Hindu terror” and indulged in vote bank politics. Shah had said her candidature was an “absolutely right decision”.
Former bureaucrats urge BJP to withdraw Thakur’s candidature
A group of 71 retired bureaucrats have raised objections to Thakur’s statement against Karkare and demanded that the BJP withdraw her candidature, PTI reported.
In an open letter, the former officers said that Thakur has used the political platform to propound her “brand of bigotry” and insult the memory of Karkare. “This decision could have been dismissed as yet another example of political expediency but for the enthusiastic endorsement by no less a person than the Prime Minister of India [Narendra Modi], who has termed her candidature as a symbol of our civilisational heritage,” the letter said.
Former Punjab Director General of Police Julio Riberio, former Pune Police Commissioner Meeran Borwankar and former Prasar Bharati Chief Executive Officer Jawhar Sircar are among the signatories.
Several Opposition parties have opposed her candidature and called out the Bharatiya Janata Party for fielding a terror accused. The father of one of the victims in the blasts on Thursday filed an intervention application before a special National Investigation Agency court, seeking orders to restrain her from contesting the Lok Sabha elections, but the NIA court rejected the plea.