A group of 71 retired civil servants have taken strong objection to Bharatiya Janata Party's Bhopal Lok Sabha seat candidate Pragya Singh Thakur's statement that her "curse" killed decorated IPS officer Hemant Karkare, and demanded withdrawal of her candidature.
In an open letter, the former officers said that Thakur, who is an accused in the Malegaon blast case and is out on bail on medical grounds, has used the political platform not just to propound her "brand of bigotry", but also to "insult" the memory of Karkare, who died fighting terrorists during the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai.
Last week, Thakur said she cursed Karkare, the former Anti-Terrorist Squad chief of Maharashtra, for treating her "very badly" while she was in custody in connection with the 2008 blast case, that killed six and injured over a 100.
Her statement evoked condemnation from several quarters and the BJP too distanced itself from the comments.
"...this dishonouring of a former colleague, an officer known for his professionalism, has come as the ultimate shock and saddened us beyond words. The country needs to honour the sacrifice of Karkare and not allow deviant individuals to denigrate him and his memory.
"Every officer who has worked with or supervised the work of Karkare has testified that he was a person of impeccable integrity and an inspiration to all who came in touch with him," said the letter.
The letter has been signed by ex-civil servants including former Punjab Director General of Police Julio Riberio, ex-Pune Police Commissioner Meeran Borwankar and former Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar.
The officers also said, "This decision could have been dismissed as yet another example of political expediency but for the enthusiastic endorsement by no less a person than the Prime Minister of India (Narendra Modi), who has termed her candidature as a symbol of our civilisational heritage," the letter said.
They listed demands like, "condemning unequivocally, the statement of Pragya Thakur, demanding that the BJP withdraw her candidature and reminding the Prime Minister...to take the lead in putting an end to the climate of fear and intimidation and communal viciousness that seems to be percolating into the entire electoral process".