BJP slams ‘irresponsible' comments about the then ATS chief

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday lashed out at Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh for his “irresponsible statement” on the late Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare, who was killed by terrorists during the 26/11 attack in Mumbai.

Deeming the statement an attempt to divert attention from scams facing the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, the BJP also described it as a “serious blow” to India's fight against terror. The party also demanded a clarification from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi on their stance over the senior party functionary's comments.

BJP's chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad condemned Mr. Singh's “unfortunate” remarks about Karkare having spoken to him about the pressure he faced from certain Hindu organisations (as he was investigating cases allegedly involving Hindu terror groups).

“The country's security, the fight against terror and investigations into the 26/11 attacks case have suffered a serious blow due to Mr. Singh's comments. Terrorists from across the border will question the entire [premise behind] the 26/11 attacks,” Mr. Prasad told journalists here.

“Terrorists from across the border and their patrons are going to lap it up,” he said. Mr. Prasad saw a “deliberate design” behind Mr. Singh's comment, saying “it [was] an attempt to distract attention from the embattled UPA and Congress party, facing a barrage of corruption charges. The Congress is finding itself seriously handicapped.”

The BJP leader alleged that Mr. Singh was making such statements to gain political mileage as he had been marginalised in the Congress. “He should find better ways to gain publicity, and not make statements which harm national security,” he added.

Mr. Prasad claimed that the Congress leader's statement had given much leverage to terrorist elements such as the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Inter-Services Intelligence.

He said they would now have a chance to ask, “why are we being framed in 26/11 when a senior Congress leader is questioning the circumstances of Hemant Karkare's killing.”

“Today, Mr. Digvijay Singh has emboldened the terrorists across the border. He has not done this for the first time...After the Batla House encounter, he had visited Azamgarh [to meet families of the accused] and now he is indirectly helping terrorists from across the border, who will question the origin of the 26/11 attacks,” Mr. Prasad said.