- Sadhvi Pragya was given a clean chit in 2015 in the Malegaon blast case
- Hemant Karkare had investigated her in connection with the blasts
- He died fighting terrorists during the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai
Facing a massive backlash over her comments boasting about her "curse" on 26/11 hero Hemant Karkare, BJP leader Pragya Singh Thakur on Friday evening apologized and said she is "taking back her words". She said Hemant Karkare was killed by terrorists and is certainly is a martyr.
"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," Pragya Thakur told news agency ANI.
Though the BJP had said the comments made by Pragya were "personal", she claimed the party had not distanced itself from her comments. "I said what I felt, party hasn't distanced itself from my remarks, they stated the right thing, that it was my personal account," the saffron-wearing ascetic said.
The BJP had inducted Pragya Thakur on Wednesday and made her the candidate from Bhopal for the Lok Sabha elections. Yesterday, the party said Sadhvi Pragya's remarks may have been driven by the torture she faced when she was in jail in the 2008 Malegaon blasts.
"I had told him you will be finished, and he was killed by terrorists in less than two months," Pragya Thakur had bragged at a press conference on Thursday, flanked by BJP leaders who clapped at the execrable words.
Several political parties have attacked the comments by Pragya Thakur as disgraceful.
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 Pragya Singh Thakur 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 Pragya Thakur 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 Pragya Thakur 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, Pragya Thakur and others were arrested and charged with plotting the blasts.
Pragya Thakur, 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.