Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, accused in the Malegaon blast case and now the BJP candidate for the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat, has drawn intense criticism from eight retired Directors General of Police for her scathing comments on Hemant Karkare, the Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) chief who died fighting terrorists who launched coordinated attacks on several places in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, widely known as the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
The former police chiefs, who released a statement through the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, an international non-governmental organisation, said Pragya Thakur’s comments on Hemant Karkare were despicable, to say the least. “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 to prevent and investigate the activities of terrorists so that the rest of us could sleep safe in our beds. The country owes him a huge debt of gratitude. Anything that detracts from this is worthy of strong condemnation,” said the former police chiefs.
They further said that the regrettable statement of Pragya Thakur only served to highlight the need to publicly recognise the supreme sacrifice made by the 35,000 police personnel from all corners of India since Independence in the line of duty. “Under-resourced and often working 24x7 in the most challenging conditions, these brave men and women have unflinchingly answered the call of duty, even when it called for the ultimate sacrifice,” they said.
The retired Directors General of Police who put out the statement are Julio Ribeiro (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 NSG), and N. Ramachandran (Meghalaya).
They said all the candidates in this election should do their bit to honour the martyrs. “As former DGPs from across the country we urge all candidates in these Lok Sabha elections to seek out and honour the families of these martyrs who live in their constituencies. We also urge them to 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 MPLAD that would make this a model police station, while ensuring required facilities for the thana staff and their families. That would be a real and meaningful tribute to the supreme sacrifices made by Hemant Karkare and thousands of other valiant police personnel,” they said.