Malegaon accused, ATS officers are Hindus, minister tells critics

November 20th, 2008 - 11:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Nagpur, Nov 20 (IANS) Senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and Maharashtra Minister Chhagan Bhujbal Thursday hit out at those doubting the integrity of the Anti Terrorism Squad in the Malegaon blast investigations, merely because the accused happen to be Hindus.”If the accused are Hindus, so are the investigators. How can they be intent on maligning Hindutva forces?” Bhujbal retorted while talking to reporters here, mentioning ATS chief Hemant Karkare and senior officer Mohan Kulkarni by name.

“Even those conducting the judicial process and presiding over it are Hindus,” he pointed out without referring to special public prosecutor Ajay Misar and the judges in Nashik and Pune courts hearing the Malegaon blast case. They are all doing their assigned duties as Indians, Bhujbal hastened to add.

An array of Hindutva organisations - including the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Bharatiya Janata Party, Shiv Sena and Abhinav Bharat - have been repeatedly accusing the ATS of torturing Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragnya Thakur and Lt. Col Prasad Purohit under pressure from the ruling Congress and NCP. The two parties were out to malign Hindutva forces and appease Muslims, the Hindutva groups said.

Public Works Minister Bhujbal, who earlier held the home portfolio, pleaded with the detractors of the investigating agency to give it time to transact the due process of law and rest assured that justice would be done in the court.

“What are they (supporters of the sadhvi and the army officer) afraid of? If the accused are innocent, they will come out unscathed,” Bhujbal said.

Deprecating the effort to make the investigations look like mockery of law, Bhujbal wondered as to how they thought the army brass would hand over a serving officer to an investigating agency just for the asking.

The minister, who was earlier a front-ranking Shiv Sena functionary, also disapproved of the Hindutva enthusiasts showering flowers on the accused in the Malegaon blast case.

“How would they react if a Muslim terror suspect were to be given such adulation?” he asked.

The NCP leader discounted the possibility of Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party gaining any political mileage out of the campaign in support of the accused.

The Sep 29 Malegaon blast left six dead and 20 injured.

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