Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur's comments boasting about her "curse" on 26/11 hero Hemant Karkare were "personal" and may have been driven by the torture she faced when she was in jail in the 2008 Malegaon blasts, the ruling BJP said today amid wide condemnation of her comments. Several political parties have attacked the comments as disgraceful.
"I had told him you will be finished, and he was killed by terrorists in less than two months," Sadhvi Pragya had bragged at a press conference on Thursday, flanked by BJP leaders who clapped at the execrable words.
Hemant Karkare died fighting terrorists during the November 26, 2008 attack in Mumbai in which 166 people were killed.
As the chief of Maharashtra's anti-terror squad, Hemant Karkare had investigated Sadhvi Pragya in connection with the blasts in Malegaon two months before that.
"The investigation team 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," said Sadhvi Pragya to reporters on Thursday.
"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 BJP, in a statement, said: "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 comments were particularly jarring when the BJP and its top leaders have made anti-terror and nationalism the core of their election campaign.
Mr Karkare was the first officer to investigate the blasts on September 29, 2008, in which six people were killed and 101 injured in Malegaon, a town 250 km from Mumbai. Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya and others were arrested and charged with plotting the blasts.
Sadhvi Pragya, Accused Number 1 in the case, was given a clean chit by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in 2015, but the trial court refused to let her off.
The NIA had said there was no evidence against her, but the court had said it was difficult to accept since her motorcycle was used in the blast.
The court dropped charges against her under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) but the trial is still on under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. She was granted bail by the Bombay High Court in 2017 on health grounds.
She joined the BJP this week and was immediately named as the party's candidate from Bhopal for the election.
A BJP leader, Shahnawaz Hussain, had earlier criticized the comments, saying: "Those who died for the country, we consider them martyrs. We don't raise questions on their martyrdom."