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Union minister doubts terrorists killed Karkare, backtracks

December 17, 2008 17:31 IST
Last Updated: December 17, 2008 18:44 IST

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Under attack from the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena, Union Minister for Minority Affairs Abdul Rahman Antulay sought to wriggle out of his controversial remarks on the killing of Maharashtra chief ATS chief Hemant Karkare [Images] saying he had not talked about who killed him but about who sent him in the wrong direction on that fateful day.

Antulay had earlier on Wednesday suggested that Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare could have met his end due to his role in the Malegaon blasts investigation.

Karkare and two other senior officers of the Mumbai police died on November 26 when Pakistani terrorists attacked Mumbai.

Also read: The man who saw the incident

Antulay said Karkare was investigating some cases in which there are non-Muslims also, an apparent reference to the Malegaon blasts case in which sadhvi Pragya Thakur and Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit were among 11 persons to be arrested.

"We may need a separate inquiry to find out how his end came," Antulay said, adding, "Karkare found that there are non-Muslims involved in the acts terrorism during his investigations in some cases. Any person going to the roots of terror has always been the target," he said.

"Superficially speaking they (terrorists) had no reason to kill Karkare.  Whether he (Karkare) was victim of terrorism or terrorism plus something, I do not know," he added. Describing Hemant Karkare as a very bold officer having great acumen and vision, Antulay asked, "How come instead of going to Hotel Taj or Oberai or even the Nariman House, he went to such a place where there was nothing compared to what happened in the three places?"

"Why all the three (Karakre, Vijay Salaskar and Ashok Kamte) went together. It is beyond my comprehension," the minister said.

The minister's remarks came under immediate attack from the Bharatiya Janata Party which asked the prime minister to clarify whether his remarks are an "individual misdemeanour or the collective wisdom of the Cabinet".

"The remarks are obnoxious and deserves a clarification from the prime minister," BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy told reporters.

But defending his remarks, Antulay said: "Who had sent them to Cama hospital (in the lane across the road from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus [Images] where he and two other officers were killed by Pakistani terrorists on November 26)? What were they told that made them leave for the same spot in the same vehicle?

"I repeat what I had said. I had not said who had killed them but only questioned who had sent them there (Cama Hospital) in that direction."

Shiv Sena member Anant Geete demanded the home minister's clarification on Antulay's statement.

He said when the entire country was speaking in one voice against terrorism, a Union minister was speaking in this fashion.

Geete said the prime minister and several senior Union ministers have gone on record to say that Karkare was killed by terrorists.

Soon after the 2006 serial blasts in Mumbai's local trains, while National Security Advisor M K Narayanan pointed a finger at Pakistan, Antulay and fellow minister Arjun Singh [Images] tried to make the point that it was routine for Hindu groups to blame Muslims for acts of violence.

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