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Clean chit to Sadhvi Pragya an insult to Hemant Karkare, says Congress

Congress leader Anand Sharma on Sunday attacked the central government, saying giving a clean chit to Sadhvi Pragya in the 2008 Malegaon blast case was an insult to police officer Hemant Karkare.

Sadhvi Pragya-AV

“MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) was used on the accused after they accepted their crimes,” Sharma told reporters. “What has happened is an insult to the memory of martyr Hemant Karkare.

“Karkare is unfortunately not with us to tell the country that he and his team carried out a fair investigation. And confessional statements were made by the accused and that was reflected in the charge sheets.”

The Congress leader’s remarks came after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) gave a clean chit to Sadhvi Pragya and five other accused in the Malegaon case.

Karkare investigated the case as the chief of Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS). He died in the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai.

Questioning the government’s intention, Sharma asked: “What made the government to suddenly make a U-turn?

“This government is trying its best to save people associated with its allied groups by saying that the arrests made and the charges laid against them were wrong.”

Slamming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he said: “Today there is a question mark on the integrity of India and its commitment to fight forces of terror.”

While demanding PM’s intervention in the case, Sharma questioned whether, with the fresh NIA stance, the government was “negating” Karkare’s “sacrifice for the country” by calling it as “dubious”.

The Congress leader alleged that NIA chief Sharad Kumar was given extension in service to get this work done.

“Whatever they are doing are doing in a planned manner. If there is no MCOCA, all those who gave statements will deny to have made the statements and court will not take cognisance and all (the accused will be out). And things will repeat,” he said.

Referring to an alleged statement by the NIA chief that nothing had happened after 2008, Sharma said, “The question is not which organisation, which caste, religion and people of which region are involved. But whether a NIA chief should say such thing? One who was to be relieved, has been given extension to get these things done.”

BJP rejected Congress charge of “direct interference” by PMO to ensure “reversal” of NIA stand in Malegaon case, insisting that discharge of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and others had occurred in accordance with laws.

The ruling party also took a swipe at Congress over its demand for a Supreme Court-monitored probe and said during the UPA rule, “no evidence” could be collected in the case that dragged on for years.

The charges were dropped in accordance with the laws, party national secretary Shrikant Sharma said about the NIA giving a clean chit to Pragya and removing charges under MCOCA against another key accused Colonel P S Purohit.

“The case had dragged on for years in court when the UPA was in power but no evidence was produced. Now Congress is questioning the entire legal process. It should not give colour to terrorism and politicise the issue,” he said.

“Congress leaders had insulted the Supreme Court by questioning the hanging of (1993 Mumbai blast convict) Yakub Memon and (2001 Parliament attack convict) Afzal Guru. Now they are seeking a SC-monitored probe even though everything has happened in the Malegaon blasts as per law,” Sharma said.

He claimed that stringent MCOCA charge was dropped against some accused on the court’s directions.

Sharma also raked up the Ishrat Jahan case saying the UPA government had “misled” the apex court by changing affidavit even though goverment agencies had “confirmed” that she was a LeT terrorist.

BJP spokesman Nalin Kohli, while rejecting the Congress allegation of “direct interference” by PMO in Malegaon case, charged that during UPA’s 10-year rule, the investigative agencies were not allowed to do their job.

“Under Prime Minister Modi’s government, no interference is there. The courts are reposing faith in the agencies, no castigation is there,” he said.

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