A few days ago, the NIA in its chargesheet in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case dropped the name of Sadhvi Pragya and claimed that the investigation conducted by the Maharashtra ATS was flawed.
NIA’s allegation directly raises fingers at martyred ATS chief Hemant Karkare’s integrity, whose investigations ended with the arrest of Thakur and others from the saffron brigade.
The NIA says that a motorcycle connected with the blasts was owned by Thakur but was not used by her. They say it was used by Ramachandra Kalasanghra, another accused.
ATS under Karkare had found the bike’s links with Thakur and based on that and other evidences arrested her and others.
All of this is now being questioned. The NIA says that even the RDX found in Lt Col Purohit’s home was planted by the ATS.
All of this has not gone down well with Karkare’s supporters. They point out that Hemant Karkare is a martyr who died fighting the 26/11 Mumbai terror attackers and was posthumously honoured with the Ashok Chakra – India’s highest peacetime gallantry award.
One of those bitterly angry with the NIA’s attempt at tarnishing Karkare’s image is Julio Ribeiro, the former top cop of the Mumbai Police.
Ribeiro has expressed shocked and anguish in a strongly worded criticism of the NIA’s allegation.
He hails Karkare as an unsullied IPS officer whose integrity was beyond doubt. He writes that Karkare was disturbed by BJP leader L.K. Advani’s accusation that he was framing Thakur and others in the case.
Ribeiro asserts that he knew the martyred ATS chief personally and was sure that the officer was not of the kind to concoct cases and frame innocents.
He wrote that the Mumbai police still stands with Karkare and that it is shocking that “to let off” Thakur and others the reputation of Hemant Karkare will be so tarnished.
Speaking to NDTV, the former Mumbai police commissioner said that “since Karkare is not here to defend himself, we are going to defend him”.
Writing in FirstPost, Sandipan Sharma points that whatever may be the truth, Karkare’s name has been slandered.
“Think about this: If the ATS under him really planted evidence to frame innocent karyakartas of Abhinav Bharat Sangh, did he deserve the Ashok Chakra?” he asks.
Hemant Karkare’s widow Kavita passed away in September 2014.