The Madhya Pradesh Election Commision on Friday said a complaint has been received against BJP's Bhopal Lok Sabha seat candidate Sadhvi Pragya Thakur for her comments on 26/11 martyr and former Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad chief Hemant Karkare.
"Complaint received against BJP Lok Sabha candidate for Bhopal, Pragya Singh Thakur, for her comments on 26/11 martyr (former Mumbai ATS Chief Hemant Karkare). Cognizance taken. The matter is under enquiry," Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer was quoted as saying.
Pragya Thakur, whose candidature is already controversial as she is an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, had said Karkare died during the Mumbai terror attacks because he had treated her "very badly", earning her curse.
"Hemant Karkare falsely implicated me (in the Malegaon blast case). He died of his karma. I told him, he'll be destroyed. I told him his entire dynasty will be erased," Pragya said.
Karkare was killed along with two other senior police officers while fighting terrorists during the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai in November 2008.
“An investigation team probing the case summoned Karkare and asked when you don't have evidence, then you should release her (Thakur). If there is no evidence, then keeping her in custody wrong, the member of the investigation team told Karkare,” alleged Thakur, while addressing the gathering of BJP workers on Thursday evening.
“But Karkare responded, even if I don't have the evidence, I'll bring it or even create it, but won't release her (Thakur). This was his (Karkare’s) kutilta (hatred), desh droh (anti-national) and dharma viruddh (against religion). He used to repeatedly question me in the case, but I only answered god knows. So, he once asked will I've to travel to god to get the answer to my questions. I replied to him if need arose, you'll have to go to god. He unleashed brutality on me and regularly gave me abuses, so I cursed him that you’ll be destroyed."
“The day a child is born or someone dies a sutak (inauspicious period) of a month and fifteen days begins. The day I was illegally detained in the case in 2008, the sutak (one month and 15 days period had begun) and the sutak ended in time with his killing by the terrorists later,” said Thakur amid claps from those assembled.
#WATCH Pragya Singh Thakur:Maine kaha tera (Mumbai ATS chief late Hemant Karkare) sarvanash hoga.Theek sava mahine mein sutak lagta hai. Jis din main gayi thi us din iske sutak lag gaya tha.Aur theek sava mahine mein jis din atankwadiyon ne isko maara, us din uska anth hua (18.4) pic.twitter.com/COqhEW2Bnc— ANI (@ANI) April 19, 2019
Thakur’s controversial statements drew severe criticism from various quarters.
Chief spokesperson of the Congress party Randeep Surjewala said only an apology from PM Modi and action against Pragya can undo the insult.
"Modi ji, only BJP leaders can commit the crime of declaring 26/11 martyr Hemant Karkare a traitor," Surjewala tweeted.
"This is an insult to every Indian soldier who has sacrificed his life for Mother India while fighting terrorism. Apologise to the country and take action against Pragya," he added.
Senior Congress leader Manak Agrawal, who is the spokesperson of Congress candidate Digvijaya Singh also condemned the statements made by Thakur on a martyr.
Reacting to Pragya's statement, Digvijay Singh said, "Hemant Karkare was a dedicated officer. He laid down his life for the country and we should be proud of him. No one should comment on it."
The IPS Officers Association too condemned the BJP candidate's remarks against the late police officer.
"Ashok Chakra awardee late Sri Hemant Karkare, IPS made the supreme sacrifice fighting terrorists. Those of us in uniform condemn the insulting statement made by a candidate and demand that sacrifices of all our martyrs be respected," the association tweeted.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal hit out at Pragya for her "disgraceful" comments.
"Disgraceful comments by BJP's Bhopal Lok Sabha candidate Pragya Thakur on 26/11 martyr Hemant Karkare ji need to be condemned in strongest terms. BJP is showing its true colours & it must be shown it's place now," he tweeted.
Out on bail, Pragya has been discharged by a court on charges under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) in the 2008 case, but is still facing trial under other criminal provisions, including the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Pragya Thakur is among the seven accused facing trial in Malegaon blast case. Six people were killed and a dozen others were injured after a bomb placed on a motorcycle exploded in Maharashtra's Malegaon on September 29, 2008.
She was arrested in 2008 but was given a clean chit by the National Investigation Agency in 2015 for lack of evidence. However, the trial court refused to let her off, saying it was difficult to accept since her motorcycle was used in the blast. Pragya will fight the Lok Sabha polls on a BJP ticket from Bhopal against Congress' Digvijaya Singh.
On Thursday, the father of one of the victims of the Malegaon blast had moved the special NIA court urging them to bar prime accused Pragya from contesting the Lok Sabha election.
(With inputs from Agencies and ENS)