By picking the terror case accused Pragya Thakur to contest for the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat, the Bharatiya Janata Party has once again demonstrated its cavalier attitude to the Rule of Law. Party President Amit Shah did not mince his words when he said that the decision to field the terror accused was meant to ‘punish’ the Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister who is the Congress candidate, for ostensibly coining the term, ‘Hindu terror’.
BJP’s candidate is on bail on medical grounds. She was said to be battling the dreaded disease of cancer. But that has not come in the way of her candidature. One wonders what would be the reaction of BJP leaders if the Congress had fielded a terror case accused as one of its candidates.
One also wonders whether BJP leaders care to remember how they distanced themselves from the Pragya Singh Thakur way back in September/October, 2008, when the then Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare arrested her on charges of conspiracy and involvement in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast. Barely two months later though, the man whose bold investigations led to her and her accomplices’ arrest, was gunned down by the Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Qasab.
BJP had then shed a lot of tears for Karkare in public though barely a week before the Mumbai attack, the RSS and the BJP had launched a virulent attack on Karkare and made all kinds of allegations against him.
His predecessor K P Raghuvanshi who had implicated Muslims for attacks on Muslims in Malegaon and elsewhere, could hardly act against Pragya’s team because its ring leader Lt. Col. Shrikant Prasad Purohit had a special relation with Raghuvanshi who had invited Purohit to train the ATS team.
Soon after Karkare died, Raghuvanshi returned to head the ATS, notwithstanding protests not just from the Muslim victims of the terror attacks but also senior politicians like RJD vice president and then Rajya Sabha member Shivanand Tiwari. However, with a firm and no-nonsense Home Minister P Chidambaram then in the saddle at the North Block keeping a watchful eye, the Maharashtra ATS did not dare to dilute the case. But that is another matter.
Soon after Pragya was arrested after the ATS recovered her LML scooter which was used to plant bombs outside a mosque in Malegaon, there appeared in the media photographs of Pragya Singh sharing space with our present day Home Minister Rajnath Singh and former MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan.
To disown that Ravi Shankar Prasad held a press conference at party headquarters 11, Ashoka Road grandly announcing that terror had no religion and the BJP condemned all acts of terror. For a long time of course no one heard of any support coming to either Pragya and her accomplices in the Abhinav Bharat team led by Col. Purohit who the investigators claimed were making plans to enact a coup to depose the UPA government.
In the Abhinav meetings he voiced his hope to secure support for this from the then King of Nepal and the Zionist government of Israel. All this was in recorded statements of the various members of Abhinav Bharat including Swami Aseemanand, who was recently let off in the Samjhauta Express bomb blast case, because the judge recorded that the National Investigating Agency (NIA) deliberately did not provide the necessary evidence to nail the main accused.
Those were also the times when the then Gujarat chief minister had to disown his close aides like Dr Maya Kodnani or Babu Bajrangi for leading mobs during the February-March, 2002 Gujarat pogrom of Muslims and even D G Vanzara and other officers who committed fake encounters of innocent Muslims had to go to jail.
Finally, even Amit Shah was asked to keep out of Gujarat and in retaliation a furious Modi gnashing his teeth scuttled the UPA’s consensual decision to bring in the simplified taxation through their version of GST.
But soon ache din came for Modi and he and his party started ruling the whole country and one by one every Modi lieutenant starting with Amit Shah, accused of overlooking fake encounters was let off by the courts because investigators were either slow or did not follow up leads diligently to establish connivance of the accused.