Outgoing Lok Sabha Speaker and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sumitra Mahajan on Monday said Hemant Karkare’s role as a police officer should be called out if it was not correct, reported The Indian Express. “He became a martyr because he died in line of duty, but if his role as a police officer was not correct, we will say it was not correct,’’ Mahajan told the daily over phone.
Mahajan’s remarks come amid controversy over BJP candidate and Malegaon blasts accused Pragya Singh Thakur’s comments about Karkare. Thakur had claimed that she had cursed Karkare, which led to his death in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Karkare was investigating the Malegaon blasts. The BJP’s Bhopal candidate, accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts, later claimed that the media distorted her comments.
Thakur had also claimed that she was tortured in custody. Sumitra Mahajan seconded it and also cited the example of Dilip Patidar, who was arrested by the Maharashtra ATS for questioning from Indore in November 2008. She alleged that he was killed in police custody. “These are the facts, someone should give the answers,” she added.
Mahajan claimed she had heard that Congress leader Digvijaya Singh and Karkare were friends. She, however, said she has no evidence of it. She alleged that arrests made by Maharashtra ATS from Indore were at the behest of Singh when he was the Madhya Pradesh chief minister.
Digvijaya Singh is the Congress’ candidate from Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, which will vote on May 12. Senior BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah, have defended Thakur’s candidature, saying it is a symbol in response to all those who have demeaned a great civilisation and floated the theory of “Hindu terror”. Thakur is out on bail, and the BJP has repeatedly claimed the theory is false.
Responding to Mahajan’s allegations, Singh said he is proud to be associated with Hemant Karkare. “Your associates may insult him but I have always backed those talking about country’s interest, national unity and integrity,” he tweeted. “I am proud that as chief minister I had the courage to recommend a ban on both Bajrang Dal and SIMI. I put country on top, not lowly politics.”