Ex-DGPs condemn Pragya
Eight former directors-general of police have jointly condemned terror accused and BJP candidate Pragya Singh Thakur’s “despicable and regrettable” comment on the late police officer Hemant Karkare and asked all poll nominees to honour the families of police martyrs in their constituencies.
Pragya, the Bhopal candidate, had on Thursday claimed that Karkare, the Maharashtra anti-terrorist squad chief who had arrested her in the Malegaon blast case, was killed during the 26/11 attacks because she had laid a “curse” on him.
After wide condemnation from serving and former IPS officers and others, she had retracted her statement and apologised “if her remarks have hurt someone”.
The statement by the eight officers paid tribute to Karkare, an Ashok Chakra awardee.
“He (Karkare) would probably be alive today had he not volunteered to return to the Maharashtra cadre from a plum posting at the Centre with the specific intention of working with the anti-terror squad… so that the rest of us could sleep safe in our beds,” it said.
“The country owes him a huge debt of gratitude. Anything that detracts from this is worthy of strong condemnation.”
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in an interview to Times Now defended Pragya’s poll candidature by holding her up as an answer to those associating the Hindu religion with terrorism.
He had referred to the Samjhauta Express blast verdict that had acquitted all the accused for want of evidence.
While the interview, telecast on Friday, appeared to have been filmed before Pragya’s comments on Karkare, Modi has not yet spoken on those controversial remarks.
Pragya too appears unfazed. She said on Saturday that she had participated in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in December 1992, attracting another showcause notice from the Election Commission after a first notice that followed her remarks on Karkare. But she repeated the boast on Sunday.
“We removed a blot from the country. We had gone to demolish the structure. I climbed atop the structure and broke it. I feel extremely proud that God gave me this opportunity. We will make sure that a Ram temple is built at the site,” Pragya had told a TV channel on Saturday.
On Sunday, she said: “Yes, I had gone there. I said it yesterday too…. I demolished the structure. I will go there and help in the construction of the Ram temple; nobody can stop us.”
The eight police veterans who issued the statement were Julio Ribeiro (ex-DGP of Punjab); Prakash Singh (Uttar Pradesh, Assam and BSF); P.K.H. Tharakan (Kerala); Kamal Kumar (National Police Academy, Hyderabad); Jacob Punoose (Kerala); Sanjeev Dayal (Maharashtra); Jayanto N. Choudhury (Assam and the National Security Guard); and N. Ramachandran (Meghalaya).
They said Pragya’s statement “only serves to highlight the need to publicly recognise the supreme sacrifice made by the 35,000 police personnel from all corners of India who since Independence have laid down their lives in the line of duty”.
They urged all the Lok Sabha candidates “to seek out and honour the families of these martyrs who live in their constituencies” and “commit to engaging with every effort to improve the delivery of policing services to their constituents”.
“One way of doing this would be to adopt one police station each year and take up schemes under the (MPs’ local area development fund) that would make this a model police station, while ensuring required facilities for the thana staff and their families,” they said.
Ribeiro, chairman of the IPS Association and former Mumbai police commissioner, had on Friday asked in reference to Pragya’s comment on Karkare: “What kind of people are being put up (as candidates)?”