Home India News Karkare was unhappy about BJP questioning his integrity: Julio Ribeiro

Karkare was unhappy about BJP questioning his integrity: Julio Ribeiro

By Neerja Chowdhury, IANS,

New Delhi : He was killed in the line of duty during the Mumbai attacks and was accorded a hero’s farewell, but Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare was deeply unhappy before he died because of the way the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had questioned his integrity, says a former top cop.

Karkare had called on veteran police officer Julio Ribeiro just a day before he was killed Wednesday night.

“He came to me because he was looking for someone to hold his hand,” Ribeiro told IANS on phone from Mumbai while stressing that Karkare was not a man to be politically influenced.

“He did not bother about the Shiv Sena, he was more bothered about the BJP, which had a well-oiled propaganda machinery and was running a concerted campaign against him that he had filed false cases against Pragnya Thakur and others.”

The ATS has arrested Thakur and at least nine others in connection with the Sep 29 blast in Malegaon, suspected to have been carried out by Hindu fundamentalists.

Karkare, a 58-year-old police officer belonging to the 1982 batch, was in the eye of a storm for leading the probe.

Ribeiro, the highly celebrated former police commissioner of Mumbai who was director general of police, Punjab, at the height of militancy there, said it was ironic that Karkare, whose integrity was being questioned by the BJP for unearthing the involvement of Hindu fundamentalists in the 2006 Malegaon blast, was also on top of the hit list of the Indian Mujahideen.

Two months ago, Muslim clerics had gone to see him and surrounded him because of his decision to comb the area in Andheri following the blasts there. When in Gadchiroli, conducting an anti-Maoist operation, it was the Maoists who made him the target.

“But he never got flustered,” Ribeiro said. “He kept a low profile. Karkare was not the type of person to be influenced politically. He would not do anything wrong. People accused him of being politically motivated. How can you make a false case with so many facts coming to light?” Ribeiro asked.

“I told him not to worry. (BJP leader L.K.) Advani calling the prime minister (over Pragnya Thakur’s torture allegations) unnerved him, that his integrity should be questioned.”

“I told him we would support him and I would write about it.”

Ribeiro said Karkare had told him he had managed to get hold of a CD with additional information on the Malegaon case and he planned to confront those already under the scanner with these facts. But he was not given further custody of some of them.

Karkare was given a state funeral Saturday. His widow has refused the Rs. 1 crore donation that BJP leader and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has announced for security personnel who died in the Mumbai attacks.

Karkare was so perturbed with the allegations against him that he had urged state Home Minister R.R. Patil to transfer him from the ATS, sources close to him disclosed. This was hours before he was gunned down.

His opponents were beginning to target not just him but also throw mud on the character of his children, which he found “unbearable”, the sources said.