Lawyers, activists slam BJP ‘hypocrisy’ on terror in Bhopal: ‘Thakur’s candidature setback for kin of those killed in Malegaon blast’

ZEESHAN SHAIKH
Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur at the Madhya Pradesh BJP headquarters in Bhopal, Wednesday, April 17, 2019. BJP has fielded Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts, as its candidate against Congress leader Digvijay Singh for Bhopal seat.

DEJECTION AND helplessness was evident in the voice of Nisar Bilal, who had lost his teenage son to the Malegaon blasts in 2008, when he was told that the BJP had decided to field Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur as its candidate from Bhopal.

"Over these 10 years, all I had been hoping and praying for was justice for my son who died in my arms. This news is a huge setback for the families of all those who have died in these terror attacks. I never imagined that the pursuit of justice could be this difficult," Bilal (68) told The Indian Express over the phone from Malegaon. He said he would continue his struggle for justice.

A casual labourer who also collected scrap for a living, Bilal had filed an intervention application in the special NIA court in 2016 opposing Thakur's bail plea. It was based on Bilal's plea that Thakur's earlier bail pleas were rejected.

Unlike Bilal, many of the other victims seem to have moved on in life.

Read | The case against Sadhvi Pragya

Liyaqat Shaikh (55), who lost his 10-year-old daughter Shagufta Parveen in the blast, avoids talking about the incident. "The pain of losing a loved one can never go, but honestly I do not keep a track of these things. I have a family to look after," said Shaikh, who makes ends meet by driving a pick-up truck.

While the victims had mixed feelings about Thakur's candidature, activists and lawyers who have represented and helped the victims said that the move showed the BJP's hypocrisy.

"As a citizen of India it is her right to fight elections. But in her bail petition her lawyers had claimed that she is infirm and can't even walk with support. This was one of the reasons for the bail being granted. She does not even attend court hearings now citing her ill health. But her health is now permitting her to campaign. She is clearly misguiding the court," said advocate Shaheed Nadeem of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind's legal which is representing the victims.

Social activists also slammed the BJP for its "duplicity". "At one hand, the BJP speaks about fighting terrorism, at the other it has granted a ticket to a person against whom there are overwhelming evidence of being involved in a terror case. By granting her a ticket, the BJP has proved its duplicity and how much it values the loved ones of Muslims killed in terror attacks," social activist Aleem Faizee said.