Sadhvi Pragya forced to retract her statement that ATS chief Hemant Karkare

New Delhi / Bhopal: Faced with a severe backlash over her statement that former ATS chief Hemant Karkare died during the 26/11 terror attack because she had cursed him, Sadhvi Pragya, under pressure from her party, backtracked late at night, saying that she takes ‘‘back her words.’’

“I felt that enemies of the country would be happy at my remarks, therefore I retract my statement and apologize for it; it was my personal pain,” she said, by way of explanation.

“He (Hemant Karkare) fell to the bullets of terrorists from an enemy country, he is certainly a martyr,” she added. Her initial statement on Karkare had not gone down too well with the party leadership, especially at a time the BJP’s entire poll narrative is constructed around the theme of nationalism and martyrdom.

BJP President Amit Shah immediately went into a huddle and the national media chief Anil Baluni was asked to take an official stand distancing the party from the Sadhvi’s remarks. However, it was a belated damage control exercise as the party headquarters by then had started getting calls to replace her as the Bhopal candidate.

Stung to the quick, the BJP immediately put out a press release, down playing Sadhvi’s remarks as a “personal statement” and attributing it to years of physical and mental anguish in jail. BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav, an ex-RSS functionary, was, however, more forthright in saying that at times one should keep one’s emotions in check and show respect to the martyrs, whatever the traumatic experience.

Pragya had kicked up the controversy by claiming in Bhopal that Karkare died just 40 days after she “cursed” him for entrapping her in the Malegaon case and torturing her. ‘‘The probe 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. “That day, a sutak (inauspicious period) had begun for him.

It ended the day he was killed,” she said, giving examples of mythical villains killed because of the curse of saints. A complaint has been already filed with the Election Commission and the Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer said the commission has taken cognizance of the remarks. Reacting to Pragya’s statement, Digvijay Singh said, “Hemant Karkare was a dedicated officer.

He laid down his life for the country and we should be proud of him. No one should comment on it.” The IPS Officers Association, too, lost no time in condemning the BJP candidate’s remarks against the late police officer. “Ashok Chakra awardee late Sri Hemant Karkare, IPS, made the supreme sacrifice while fighting terrorists.

Those of us in uniform condemn the insulting statement made by a candidate and demand that sacrifices of all our martyrs be respected,” the association tweeted. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal hit out at Pragya for her “disgraceful” comments. Pragya is currently out on bail in the Malegaon case on health grounds.

SADHVI’S CURSE ON 26/11 MARTYR

‘‘Hemant Karkare was told if you do not have evidence, let her go. He said, I will do anything to find 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’ and just after one month, 26/11 terrorists killed him.’’

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