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Uproar in Maharashtra assembly over Antulay remarks


Nagpur : Maharashtra assembly proceedings were adjourned thrice amid uproarious scenes Thursday with a belligerent opposition seeking a discussion over Minorities Affairs Minister A.R. Antulay’s controversial remarks over Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare’s death during the Mumbai terror attacks.

Refusing to accept the government explanation that Antulay’s statement in Delhi Wednesday was his personal opinion, angry Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party legislators insisted on a debate on the issue under Rule 57 (adjournment motion).

Antulay Wednesday suggested that Karkare’s death could be linked to the Malegaon bombings which he was investigating and in which members of Hindu radical groups are the main suspects.

“Superficially speaking they (terrorists) had no reason to kill Karkare. Whether he (Karkare) was a victim of terrorism or terrorism plus something I do not know,” Antulay had said.

Antulay made the statement Wednesday both in and outside the parliament, seeking a probe into the circumstances of Karkare’s death, even as Maharashtra Home Minister Jayant Patil gave the assembly a detailed account of when, where and with whose bullets the ATS chief died.

Patil’s description of Karkare’s death was part of his reply to a marathon debate on the terror strike and the state’s response to it. A complete narration of the Nov 26 terror strike right from the time the terrorists left Karachi to the time the last among them was killed in the 59-hour encounter was a part of the reply.

Taking strong exception to Antulay’s insinuation, leader of opposition Ramdas Kadam and leader of BJP Eknath Khadse said since the central minister made the statement inside parliament, it could not be brushed aside as his personal opinion.

Speaker Babasaheb Kupekar had to adjourn the house thrice as irate opposition members created bedlam incessantly, with many of them rushing into the well of the house, demanding suspension of question hour and all other business to hold discussion on the issue through an adjournment motion.

Though the demand was not conceded, Patil categorically reiterated his previous day’s statement that Karkare and his two associates Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar died in firing by Ajmal Kasab’s accomplice Ismail.

“There is no doubt about it and no question of a re-check; the account (of the three police officers’ with terrorists) is based on Kasab’s statement, post-mortem report and the eye-witness account given by police wireless operator Jadhav accompanying them,” he said.

Apart from continuing to demand a debate via an adjournment motion, the opposition members raised slogans demanding ‘dismissal’ of state director general of police A.N. Roy and Mumbai police chief Hasan Ghafoor.

Added to these demands later was the demand to book Antulay (who is a former chief minister of the state) under Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) and action against additional state home secretary Chitkala Zutshi for not acting on the intelligence pertaining to the 26/11 terror strike.