NEW DELHI: "The investigation team called Hemant Karkare and said if you do not have evidence, let her go. He said, I will do anything to get evidence against her. I won't let her go. This was his hatred (kuteelta). He was anti-national. He was dharam virudh (anti-religion). You won't believe, but I said, 'tera sarvanashhoga'. Just after 'sawa' month, terrorists killed him," declared Pragya Singh Thakur, accused in the Malegaon 2008 terror blasts case, to reporters in Bhopal. This was part of her campaign as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate for the Lok Sabha.

The BJP leaders sitting around clapped enthusiastically, applauding her every word against the valiant police officer who was killed on duty. But the police officers across the country are not clapping, with the Indian Police Service Association issuing a statement strongly condemning the “insulting” remarks. “Ashok Chakra awardee late Shri Heman Karkare, IPS made the supreme sacrifice fighting terrorists.Those of us in uniform condemn the insulting statement made by a candidate and demand that sacrifices of all our martyrs be respected,” the Association stated.

The Indian Police Foundation also reacted stating, “Hemant Karkare laid down his life while defending our country. The following remark made by a sick minded politician is a violation of the honour and dignity of a policy martyr and the entire Indian police condemns this remark.”

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The Opposition leaders, including Arvind Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi, have all strongly condemned these remarks expressing pride and respect for the slain police officer whose investigation was deeply admired within the service. He had investigated the BJP candidates involvement with the blasts in Malegaon two months before he was killed, a fact that Thakur referred to in her vitriolic comments with satisfaction.

Karkare was the first officer to investigate the blasts on September 29, 2008, in which six people were killed and 101 injured in Malegaon, a town 250 km from Mumbai. Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya and others were arrested and charged with plotting the blasts.

Sadhvi Pragya, Accused Number 1 in the case, was given a clean chit by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in 2015, but the trial court refused to let her off. The NIA had said there was no evidence against her, but the court had said it was difficult to accept since her motorcycle was used in the blast. She is still an accused with the trial on under the Unlawful (Prevention) Act although the court dropped the charges against her under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA). Despite this, the BJP inducted her into the party to contest against Congress leader Digvijay Singh in Bhopal. Her entry was seen by many as a signal that the campaign will touch new lows, and the attack on Karkare has confirmed the worst fears.