Bhopal/New Delhi: BJP’s Bhopal Lok Sabha candidate Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, who sparked a controversy on Friday by saying that Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare had died during the 26/11 terror attack due to “her curse”, apologised for her remark and termed him a “martyr”.
Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, said she was taking back her remarks as she “felt that the enemies of the country are being benefited” from it.
“It was my personal pain. I take back my statement and apologise,” she told reporters hours after she made the controversial remarks.
At a public meeting in Bhopal on Friday, Thakur, recounting the episode of her arrest and interrogation in the Malegaon case, said she was in a Mumbai jail and the head of the probe had called Karkare and said that she should be released as there was no evidence against her.
“Then Karkare asked me various questions and I replied ‘God knows’. At this, Karkare said would he have to go to God to get the answers. Then, I told him that he would be destroyed and he was cursed… within a month and a half he fell victim to terrorist bullets.
“Hindus believe that a period of one-and-a-half month after anyone’s birth or death is of ritual impurity. When Karkare asked me these questions, this period started for him and ended with him being killed by terrorists,” she said.
The statement by Thakur, who had joined the BJP on Wednesday and was hours later named its candidate against former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh in Bhopal, draw flak from opposition parties such as the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party, who demanded the party apologise.
The Indian Police Service Association also condemned her remarks.
Congress leader Sanjay Jha accused Thakur of mocking Karkare’s death.
“I live in Mumbai. We saw 26/11 at close quarters. ATS Chief Hemant Karkare stood up to save us from Pakistani terrorists. He was killed by them. BJP candidate from Bhopal Pragya Singh Thakur mocks his death,” Jha said in a tweet.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh lashed out at Sadhvi Pragya for insulting a decorated dead police officer and accused her of dragging the current nationalism discourse to a new low.
In a hard-hitting reaction to the “sickening and repulsive” comment, he said: “That woman cannot be sane. No person in their sane mind can think or talk like that, and that too about a police officer who sacrificed his life for the nation.”
He also dismissed as “crap” the BJP’s subsequent attempt to alienate itself from the controversial remarks by calling them the Sadhvi’s personal opinion.
The AAP said the nation is proud of Karkare who laid down his life fighting against the Pakistani terrorists during the 26/11 attack. “BJP must apologize for insulting Hemant Karkare.”
AAP Chief Arvind Kejriwal called the comments “disgraceful” and said her comment need to be condemned in strongest terms.
“BJP is showing its true colours and it must be shown it’s place now,” he tweeted.
MIM President Asaduddin Owaisi also questioned the BJP for Thakur’s comment.
“Hemant Karkare died fighting people not very different from yourself. He didn’t die because a terror accused ‘felt bad’ and ‘cursed’ him. The man died fighting to protect our rights to vote and elect a government. How dare BJP insult our martyrs like this?” he asked.
In a tweet from its official handle, the IPS (Central) Association said: “Ashok Chakra awardee late 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.”