Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh has stoked a controversy with his claim that slain Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare had called him hours before the 26/11 terror strikes, saying that he feared for his safety from Hindu extremists, triggering a strong reaction from the BJP.

“I had spoken to him three and a half hours...it was between 6 and 7 PM on 26/11....I was very shocked when I came to know that he was killed”, he told reporters today.

Singh claimed that Karkare had talked about a threat to his life from those opposed to his probe into the Malegaon blast in which Hindu extremists were accused.

“When I called him he said, he was receiving some threat calls. He did not know who was calling. An article was published in a magazine linked to RSS against his son. It alleged that his son had got some Rs 50 crore contract from Dubai while his son was just 17—years—old,” the senior Congress leader said.

Suggesting that he and Karkare had come closer after he congratulated the slain ATS chief over the arrests in the Malegaon blasts, Singh said that Karkare was a “little depressed” that top leaders of BJP including Rajnath Singh were questioning his integrity.

“After Malegaon blast, we nabbed people about whom I had prior knowledge. They were involved in terrorist activities. They were involved in (Mau) bomb blast and Bhopal bomb blast. I knew all these”, Singh, a former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, said.

Singh noted at that time he had “some information that some people were questioning Karkare’s integrity.....Among them there were top leaders from BJP, including Rajnath Singh. He was little depressed about this.”

He said investigating agencies should look into all the matters.

Earlier, former Minority Affairs Minister A R Antulay had stirred a controversy by saying that Karkare’s killing may be linked to his probe of Hindu extremists’ hand in the Malegaon blast.

Asked whether Congress shared Singh’s view, Union Law Minister and senior party leader M Veerappa Moily sought to distance himself from it saying, “I think you need to ask Digvijay Singh“.

BJP slammed Singh for his “irresponsible statement” on Karkare, saying it was a “serious blow” to India’s fight against terror and an attempt to divert attention from scams facing the UPA.

“The country’s security, fight against terror and investigations into the 26/11 attacks case has suffered a serious blow due to Digvijay Singh’s comments. Terrorists from across the border will question the entire 26/11 attacks,” party’s chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters here.

He strongly condemned Singh’s “unfortunate” comments which it alleged had also tried to drag in the RSS.

Demanding a clarification from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi on their stand over Singh’s comments, Prasad said, “Terrorists from across the border and their patrons are going to lap it up”.

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