In light of the controversial statements made by Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, who is contesting Lok Sabha elections 2019 from Bhopal, eight former DGPs have come forward to put out a joint statement against the BJP candidate from Bhopal.
Thakur, who has been fielded by the ruling party against Congress bigwig Digvijay Singh, recently said that former Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare, who was martyred during terrorist gunfire during the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai (2008), had died because she has "cursed" him. After widespread outrage, Thakur said she is "taking back" her words as they were benefiting the Opposition.
Responding to the statement, eight former Director Generals of Police have put out a statement, condemning Thakur and her statement as "despicable and regrettable".
"Hemant Karkare fell to terrorist bullets on 26/11 in the line of duty while defending his country," the statement read. It further outlined how Karkare could possibly been alive today had he not rejected the cushy posting at the Centre to continue working with the ATS. "The country owes him a huge debt of gratitude. Anything that detracts from this is worthy of strong condemnation," the joint statement asserted.
The statement has been issued by retired DGPs across various states including Julio Ribeiro, of Punjab, Prakash Singh who was DGP of UP Assam and also part of BSF, P.K.H. Tharakan and Jacob Punoose of Kerala, Kamal Kumar, the DGP National Police Academy, Hyderabad, Sanjeev Dayal of Maharashtra, Jayanto N. Choudhury, DGP Assam and NSG and N Ramachandran of Meghalaya.
Apart from condemning Thakur's statements, which she has since retracted, the statement also called the nation's attention and focus to the sacrifices made by the county's police forces, including men and women police officers who are always ready to lay down their lives in the line-of-duty, often in return for minimal fanfare or negligence.
The DGPs felt that Thakur's statement only highlighted the public apathy toward the sacrifices made by the police force. They focused on the need to "publicly recognise the supreme sacrifice made by the 35,000 police personnel from all corners of India who since Independence have laid down their lives in the line of duty".
These personnel are often under-resourced and often working 24x7 under challenging conditions. "These brave men and women have unflinchingly answered the call of duty, even when it called for the ultimate sacrifice," the statement read.
The DGPs further requested all political parties who are campaigning for the 2019 elections to not forget these martyrs and those that survive them while seeking votes. Candidates can do this by seeking out families of martyrs in their own constituencies or by adopting police stations.
Pragya Sadhvi is an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case that left 6 dead and 101 injured. According to a report in The Indian Express, some of the allegations that the Maharashtra ATS against Thakur includes her bike, which was allegedly used to carry the IED for the blast, and other points such as her presence at a controversial meeting in Bhopal, her interactions with the alleged bombers. The case was taken over by the National Investigative Agency (NIA) in 2011 which eventually dropped several charges under Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against her. Thakur is currently out on bail.