Maha Cong, NCP demand PM's apology on Sadhvi's remark

PTI
Friday, 19 April 2019

Terming Thakur a "terrorist", NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said the BJP's decision to give her a ticket underscored its "pretence" of fighting terrorism.

MUMBAI: The Congress and NCP in Maharashtra on Friday sought an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over BJP candidate Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur's remark that slain ATS chief Hemant Karkare died in a terrorist attack because she had "cursed" him.

The state unit of the BJP distanced itself from Thakur's remark, saying it considers all those who were killed in the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack as martyrs.

Terming Thakur a "terrorist", NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said the BJP's decision to give her a ticket underscored its "pretence" of fighting terrorism.

Malik, who addressed the media along with state Congress general secretary Sachin Sawant here, alleged that the remarks made by Thakur, who is in the fray from Bhopal Lok Sabha seat, came from the "script" provided by the BJP.

Maharashtra NCP chief Jayant Patil said both the BJP and its ally Shiv Sena should be "ashamed" of her statement.

Karkare, then chief of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), was killed in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.

Thakur is one of the accused in the September 2008 Malegaon bomb blast case and facing trial under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. She is out on bail.

Addressing a gathering of BJP workers in Bhopal Thursday, Thakur alleged that the Maharashtra ATS illegally detained her in the case and tortured her.

""He (Karkare) tortured me and subjected me to harsh abuse which was unbearable. I told him he will be destroyed. A little over a month later 'sutak' (ritual observed after death of a family member) was going to start...just over a month later, he was shot dead by terrorists and the inauspicious period ended," she said.

Jayant Patil said while Modi was seeking votes in the name of (Pulwama terror attack) martyrs, his party's candidate "is celebrating Karkare's death".

"The BJP and Shiv Sena, particularly Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray should be ashamed of this," he said.

Malik said that "real face" of the BJP stands exposed. "The BJP gave ticket to a terrorist to create this kind of atmosphere to ensure its victory. People will not forgive these people who have insulted martyr Karkare," he said.

Congress leader Sawant said that with her "despicable" comments, Thakur had insulted Karkare who made the supreme sacrifice while fighting terrorists.

"Why the prime minister is silent when a martyr has been insulted? Modi should apologise to the country," he said.

Sawant also said he was appalled by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' silence. "He should take initiative and push for Sadhvi's expulsion from the BJP," he added.

Sawant and Malik also said the BJP nominating Thakur from Bhopal also shows that then special public prosecutor Rohini Salian's claim that she was asked by an NIA official to "go slow" against the Malegaon blast accused was true.

The Shiv Sena, BJP's partner in the NDA, should make clear its positions on the issue, Sawant demanded.

Thakur's shocking statement also seemed to have put the Maharashtra BJP on the defensive.

State BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said it was her personal stand and the party did not support it.

"Sadhvi has spoken about how she was jailed during the Congress rule, tortured in jail and misbehaved with, being a woman," he said.

"As far as her statement on Karkare is concerned, the BJP considers all those who laid down their lives fighting terrorists -- be it Karkare, (constable) Tukaram Ombale (police officers) Vijay Salaskar, Ashok Kamte, Major Unnikrishnam or the over 160 people who died (in the Mumbai attack) as martyrs," Bhandari said.

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