A retired police official, who had served under former Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare, has decided to contest the Lok Sabha elections against Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Pragya Thakur, reported The Times of India. Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Riyaz Deshmukh said he filed his nomination papers as an independent candidate in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.

Bhopal goes to the polls on May 12 in the fifth phase of the General Elections.

Deshmukh currently lives in Aurangabad in Maharashtra. “I made up my mind to contest against her [Pragya Thakur] because I cannot see anyone maligning one of the finest and most upright officers in Maharashtra,” The Times of India quoted Deshmukh as saying. “Karkare guided me in all professional matters and always stood by me.”

After he retired, Deshmukh started a web portal and offered counselling services in legal cases to civilians and serving police officials, the newspaper reported.

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.

On April 19, Thakur had said that she had cursed Karkare leading to his death in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

A group of 200 people, including family members of victims of the 2008 Malegaon blasts and activists, from Maharashtra will travel to Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh to campaign against Thakur, The Indian Express reported on Thursday.

On April 21, Thakur had told the Election Commission that she did not make any defamatory comments against Karkare. The poll panel had issued a notice to Thakur based on her comments about Karkare. She claimed that the media had presented her remarks in a negative light.