Even before the controversy over BJP candidate Pragya Singh Thakur's comments on slain IPS officer Hemant Karkare dies down, outgoing Lok Sabha Speaker and BJP's eight-term MP from Indore Sumitra Mahajan on Monday said that Karkare "became a martyr" because he died in line of duty but claimed that his role as the chief of Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) was not above board.
"There are two aspects to Hemant Karkare. He became a martyr because he died in line of duty, but if his role as a police officer was not correct, we will say it was not correct,'' Mahajan told The Indian Express over the phone from Indore.
The BJP leader alleged that she did not have any evidence but she had heard that Congress leader and party candidate from Bhopal, Digvijaya Singh, was a friend of Karkare. She said when Singh was the Madhya Pradesh CM, he frequently accused the RSS of making bombs and being a terror outfit. She alleged that arrests made by Maharashtra ATS from Indore were at the behest of the former CM.
Responding to the remarks, Digvijaya tweeted: "Sumitra tai, I am proud that you associate me with Ashoka Chakra winner martyr Hemant Karkare. Your associates may insult him but I have always backed those talking about country's interest, national unity and integrity.''
Mahajan also said that Pragya Thakur was not the only one to be tortured in custody and cited the example of Dilip Patidar, who was picked up by Maharashtra ATS for questioning from Indore in November 2008. She said Patidar never returned, and the issue of his disappearance was raised in Lok Sabha, as also in courts.
Mahajan alleged that he was killed in police custody. "These are the facts, someone should give the answers," she said.
She had made somewhat similar comments to a Marathi TV channel.
Digvijaya also tweeted, "I am proud that as chief minister I had the courage to recommend a ban on both Bajrang Dal and SIMI. I put country on top, not lowly politics."
Mahajan asked, "What patriotism did he display by making Karkare do such things?''