Mumbai: After charges were dropped against activist Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and others accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts, questions raised on the role of Hemant Karkare, the police officer who investigated the case, have outraged many in the Mumbai police.
Hemant Karkare died fighting terrorists during the 26/11 Mumbai attack.
“It is an insult to his memory,” former Mumbai police commissioner Julio Ribeiro said on NDTV’s Walk The Talk, reacting to allegations by some that Mr Karkare planted evidence or filed a false report against Sadhvi Pragya, Colonol Srikant Purohit and others accused in the Malegaon case.
“Since he is not here to defend himself, we are going to defend him,” said the distinguished former officer who also served in Punjab and Gujarat in a career spanning over three decades.
Mr Ribeiro said most in the Mumbai police are upset with the allegations. “They knew Mr Karkare. They were more involved with him emotionally after he died,” he said.
Mr Karkare, as the chief of the Maharashtra’s Anti-terror Squad, first investigated the blasts on September 29, 2008, in which six people were killed and 101 injured.
Lt Col Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya and others were arrested and were charged with plotting the blasts as part of a pro-Hindu group, Abhinav Bharat.
Last week, the National Investigation Agency dropped charges against Sadhvi Pragya and five others citing lack of evidence. The agency recommended prosecuting Army Colonel Srikant Purohit for conspiracy but dropped charges under a more stringent anti-terror law against him.
Mr Ribeiro said: “I knew they would be let off. But didn’t know they would do it in this manner, by condemning a man who is held at such high respect by the police officers as well as the public. I suppose they had to do it to get Pragya out of the case and weaken the case against Colonel Purohit.”