The Election Commission has issued a notice to BJP leader Pragya Singh Thakur after remarks on 26/11 hero Hemant Karkare sparked a wide condemnation.
Pragya Singh Thakur, the 2006 Malegaon blast accused, on Thursday had said that 26/11 hero Hemant Karkare died because she had "cursed" him. "I had told him you will be finished, and he was killed by terrorists in less than two months," Pragya Thakur, contesting as the BJP candidate from Bhopal, had bragged at a press conference on Thursday.
Maharashtra police officer Hemant Karkare died fighting terrorists during the November 26, 2008 attack in Mumbai. 166 people were killed in the terror attack. Two months before the Mumbai terror attack, he had investigated Pragya Thakur in 2006 Malegaon blast case that killed 40 people.
Amid strong criticism from the opposition leaders, the poll body had sought a report from the Bhopal Collector on Pragya Thakur's comments.
Chief Electoral Officer VL Kantharao said Bhopal Collector, who is also the district election officer, has issued a notice to Pragya Thakur and after he gets a reply, he will submit his report.
"We took suo motu cognisance of the statement and sought a report from the assistant returning officer (ARO) on the matter. We got the report this morning and we are going to issue notices, which are returnable within 24 hours, to the organiser of the programme and the person who made the statement," District Election Officer and Bhopal Collector Sudam Khade told news agency PTI.
Pragya Thakur called Hemant Karkare "anti-national" in her comments. "The investigation team had called Hemant Karkare and said if you do not have evidence, let her go. He said, I will do anything to get evidence against her. I won't let her go. This was his hatred (kuteelta). He was anti-national. He was dharam virudh (anti-religion). You won't believe, but I said, 'tera sarvanashhoga'. Just after 'sawa' month, terrorists killed him," she had said.
"That day, there was a sutak (inauspicious period) on him. That sutak ended the day he was killed," she said, giving examples of mythical villains killed because of the curse of saints.
The ruling BJP on Friday, amid a massive backlash on Pragya Thakur's remarks, said it was a remark made in "personal" capacity. "The BJP considers him a martyr. This is Sadhvi Pragya's personal statement which she might have given because of the mental and physical torture she had faced," the party said in a statement.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, among other opposition leaders, criticised Pragya Thakur. "Hemant Karkare gave his life protecting India. He must be treated with respect," he said in a tweet.
Pragya Thakur, who wears a saffron robe and is an as ascetic, later apologised for her remarks. "If my remarks made enemies happy, then I take my words back, and I apologise too. Our remarks shouldn't make enemies happy. The pain I went through, it can't be reversed, but terrorists killed Hemant Karkare, he certainly is a martyr," she told news agency ANI.
(With inputs from agencies)