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Oppn parties lash out at BJP over Sadhvi Pragya's remarks, Cong demands apology from PM

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: April 19, 2019  | 22:43 IST

(Eds: Updating with Thakur's apology) New Delhi, Apr 19 (PTI) The remarks of BJP's Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur on IPS officer Hemant Karkare, who was killed in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, raised a political storm Friday with opposition parties attacking the saffron party and the Congress demanding an apology from PM Narendra Modi. Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts and the BJP's candidate from the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat in Madhya Pradesh, Thursday had claimed that Karkare died during the attacks as she "cursed" him for torturing her. According to an aide of hers, she Friday apologised for her remarks, but the BJP distanced itself from the comments against Karkare, describing them as "personal". AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal termed her remarks as "disgraceful", while PDP's Mehbooba Mufti said these are the "worst days" for the country as such candidates are in the fray. Kejriwal alleged that this (Thakur's remarks) showed the "BJP's true colours". Congress president Rahul Gandhi said Karkare gave his life protecting the country and must be treated with respect. Thakur, while addressing BJP workers at a rally in Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, had said Karkare had inflicted the worst kind of abuses and torture on her during custody in connection with the Malegaon blasts. Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Prime Minister Modi should apologise for Thakur's remarks and take action against her for terming Karkare an "anti-national" and alleging that the officer had tortured her. "The anti-national face of the BJP now stands exposed before the people of India.They have crossed all limits by showing their disrespect towards martyrs. The prime minister should take strict action against Pragya Thakur for her remarks against Hemant Karkare," he said at a press conference here. The PM should be asked if describing Karkare as a 'desh drohi' and using unpardonable words against him like "rakshas" (monster) and "raavan" is respecting the memory of a "martyr", Surjewala said. "The BJP has committed an unforgivable sin of calling 26/11 martyr anti-national and using terms like monster against him. It is proved that BJP is the friend of terrorist Ajmal Kasab, who was hanged under the Congress rule," he said. In a tweet later, Gandhi said, "Hemant Karkare gave his life protecting India. He must be treated with respect." Condemning Thakur's remarks, Kejriwal, too, tweeted, "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 and it must be shown it's place now," he tweeted. Reacting sharply on Thakur's remarks, former J-K Chief Minister Mehbooba said these are the worst days for the country. "I think these are the worst days for our country that you are giving such a choice of candidates to the people who use such language against a martyr like Hemant Karkare," Mehbooba told reporters in Srinagar. However, the BJP in a statement said it believes that Karkare died while bravely fighting terrorists and it has always considered him a martyr. The party, claimed that Thakur had suffered "physical and mental torture" for years in police custody that might have caused her to make such a statement.The comment is her "personal view", the BJP said. Thakur tendered her apology for her "emotionally-charged" remarks, at a public meeting in Madhya Pradesh's Berasia area," her aide Upma Singh said."Pragya ji said if her remarks have hurt someone, she was sorry for it," he told PTI. "I felt that the enemies of the country were being benefited from it (my remarks), so I take back my statement and apologise for it. It was my personal pain," an aide quoted Thakur as saying. Thakur had said in the Bhopal rally on Thursday that Karkare committed an anti-national act by falsely implicating her in the Malegaon blast case and keeping her behind bars without evidence."It was treason. It was against religion," she said. Thakur alleged that she was tortured during her detention and she had cursed him. "He tortured me and subjected me to harsh abuse which was unbearable. I told him he will be destroyed. A little over a month later 'sutak' (ritual observed after death of a family member) was going to start...just over a month later, he was shot dead by terrorists and the inauspicious period ended," she said. Thakur is an accused in the Malegaon terror blast case and Karkare, the then Mumbai anti-terrorism squad chief, was leading the probe into case. Out on bail, Thakur 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. She is pitted against Congress heavyweight and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh in Bhopal. PTI AG SKC ANB ANB

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