Digvijay repeats Karkare charge; Wife, Nikam trash him
Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh on Saturday made a sensational claim that two hours before the terrorists struck in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, Anti-Terror Squad chief Hemant Karkare had called him and informed him that his life was under threat from those who opposed to his probe into the Malegaon blast.
Talking to media persons in New Delhi, Digvijay said, "Just two hours before attacks in Mumbai started, at around 7 pm, Hemant Karkare rang me on my mobile and told me how his family and his life were receiving constant threats from people annoyed by his investigations into the Malegaon blasts."
"He was worried and he told me he was trying to trace the calls. He was depressed and worried by the threats and personal attacks made in the newspapers. Karkare also told me that he was hurt after reading a report in a paper (a mouthpiece of a Hindu right-wing organization) which alleged that his son was minting money in Dubai, when in reality he was only a school student in Mumbai," added the Congress leader.
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Image: Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh
Such statements don't matter: Nikam
Nikam says that these are mere statements and as such won't affect the case before the high court, which is hearing the Ajmal Kasab's appeal against the death sentence awarded to him by the trial court.
"We have our facts and have put forth the same before the court. Such statements, which are made in public, do not form part of the case. Cases are decided based on facts and evidence before the court."
"I do not know why politicians make such statements regarding a case. I will not comment too much about the statements made by Singh. The case on hand is my priority and my job will be to ensure that Kasab's death sentence is confirmed by the high court. The case is still on and we expect the same to be completed in six months time."
Image: Maharashtra government counsel Ujjwal Nikam
'Singh cannot give evidence on a case through the media'
Justice Santosh Hegde, former Supreme Court judge, says that such statements won't have an affect on the case.
"In fact, he can be warned by the high court for making such statements when the matter is pending before the court. Singh cannot give evidence on a case through the media. If he is concerned, then let him plead himself as a party in the proceedings or at least file an affidavit to this effect before the court."
It may be recalled that former Union Minister AR Antulay had raised doubts over the killing of Karkare by Pakistani terrorists, suggesting a link with the Malegaon blast that was being investigated by him. His statement has drawn sharp criticism from across the spectrum. Antulay's 'irresponsible' remark, just days after 26/11, had cost Antulay his job.
'Karkare was a little depressed'
Suggesting that he and Karkare had come closer after he congratulated the slain ATS chief over the arrests in the Malegaon blasts, Digvijay Singh said Karkare was a 'little depressed" that top leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party, including Rajnath Singh were questioning his integrity.
"After Malegaon blast, we nabbed people about whom I had prior knowledge. They were involved in terrorist activities. They were involved in (Mau) bomb blast and Bhopal bomb blast. I knew all these", Singh, a former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, said.
He said investigating agencies should look into all the matters.
Asked whether Congress shared Singh's view, Union Law Minister and senior party leader M Veerappa Moily sought to distance himself from it, saying: "I think you need to ask Digvijay Singh".
'Deliberate design behind Singh's comment: BJP
BJP slammed Singh for his 'irresponsible statement' on Karkare, saying it was a "serious blow" to India's fight against terror and an attempt to divert attention from scams facing the UPA.
"The country's security, fight against terror and investigations into the 26/11 attacks case has suffered a serious blow due to Digvijay Singh's comments. Terrorists from across the border will question the entire 26/11 attacks," BJP Chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told media persons in New Delhi.
"Terrorists from across the border and their patrons are going to lap it up," he said.
He saw a "deliberate design" behind Singh's comment, saying, "It is an attempt to distract the embattled UPA and Congress party, which is facing a barrage of corruption charges. Congress is finding itself seriously handicapped".
'Mockery of my husband's sacrifice for political gain should stop'
Karkare's widow slammed Digvijay for his claims.
Talking to reporters, Kavita Karkare accused Singh of playing vote bank politics and denied that any conversation had taken place between her husband and the Congress leader, as claimed by the latter.
"When my husband was investigating the Malegaon blast and was looking for Hindu accused, there were reactions from Hindu organisations. Similarly, when earlier he was looking for Muslim accused, there was reaction from that community," she said, adding such reactions were natural.
Kavita said it was wrong to suggest that Hindu groups were linked to the 26/11 terror attacks. "Such statements will mislead people and benefit Pakistan."
"Mockery of my husband's sacrifice for political gain should stop," she said.
Photographs: Sanjay Sawant/Rediff.com
Maharashtra Deputy CM to seek details of threats to Karkare
Asked to comment on Digvijay Singh's remarks, Pawar said he would convene a meeting of police officials and also Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil to know the details of the issue.
Image: Maharashtra Deputy CM Ajit Pawar