Congress distances itself from Antulay’s Karkare remarks (Lead)

December 17th, 2008 - 9:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, Dec 17 (IANS) The ruling Congress Wednesday distanced itself from Minority Affairs Minister A.R. Antulay controversial remarks on slain Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare, suggesting he was a “victim of terrorism plus something” and that his killing Nov 26 during the Mumbai terror attacks could be linked to his probe into the Malegaon blasts.”The Congress certainly does not subscribe to his remarks or with his formulation,” party spokesman Abhishek Manu Sanghvi told reporters hours after Antulay made his remarks.

“He made the remarks in his individual capacity,” Sanhgvi maintained.

He, however, parried a question on whether the remarks would make it difficult for Antulay to continue in the cabinet.

Speaking to reporters outside Parliament House, Antulay said: “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.”

“Karkare found that there are non-Muslims involved in the acts terrorism during his investigations in some cases. Any person going to the roots of terror has always been the target,” he maintained.

“There is more than what meets the eye,” Antulay added.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was quick to latch on to what it termed the minister’s “obnoxious” remarks, saying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should clarify the issue.

“The remarks are obnoxious and deserve a clarification from the prime minister,” BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.

Antulay’s remarks also led to frayed tempers in the Lok Sabha with Shiv Sena member Ananth Geethe and other opposition members demanding the minister explain his remarks.

Antulay, however, stuck to his guns while speaking in the Lok Sabha Wednesday afternoon.

“Why did Karkare not go to the Taj hotel or the Oberoi when it was known that the terrorists were there? Why was he asked to go to the Cama hospital?” the minister asked.

“If he had gone to the Taj or the Oberoi, the situation would have been very different,” maintained, adding: “That aspect should be probed.

On Tuesday, a tough talking opposition in the Maharashtra assembly, joined by suspended Congress rebel Narayan Rane, issued a virtual ultimatum to the government to sack state Director General of Police Anomy Roy and Mumbai police chief Hasan Ghafoor.

The opposition slammed the two top police officers for their “failure” to act on intelligence about the 26/11 terror strike and lead from the front the force under their command in repulsing the terrorists.

“While three top political functionaries - (then central home minister) Shivraj Patil, (then chief minister) Vilasrao Deshmukh and (then state home minister) R.R. Patil - have had to go owning up moral responsibility for the loss of life in the horrendous terror strike, why are the two top police officers directly responsible for it still in their seats?” asked senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Gopinath Munde while speaking on an adjournment motion tabled by the opposition.

The Maharashtra ATS has charged 11 people, including Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and a serving Indian Army officer, Lt. Col. Shrikant Prasad Purohit in connection with the Malegaon blasts Sep 8, 2006 which killed 37 people and injured over 125.

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