Storm as Antulay sees conspiracy in Karkare death (Lead)

December 17th, 2008 - 11:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, Dec 17 (IANS) Minority Affairs Minister A.R. Antulay raised a storm Wednesday after saying that slain Maharashtra police officer Hemant Karkare was a “victim of terrorism plus something”. As the opposition bayed for his blood, his own Congress party quickly distanced itself from the remark.A former chief minister of Mahrashtra, Antulay made the remarks first to reporters in parliament complex saying the terrorists who ravaged Mumbai Nov 26-29 had no reason to kill Karkare, head of the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Mumbai Police.

Karkare was among the security personnel who died moments after the terrorists went on a killing spree, eventually leaving over 170 Indians as well as foreigners dead. Karkare was gunned down along with his colleagues when the gunmen fired at their vehicle Nov 26 night.

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

“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 said.

“Karkare found that there are non-Muslims involved in acts terrorism in some cases. Any person going to the roots of terrorism has always been the target,” he said. “There is more than what meets the eye.”

As opposition members pounced on Antulay for his remarks which Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy dubbed “obnoxious”, Antulay tried to retract saying he did not mean that terrorists did not kill him.

He said it needed to be found out why Karkare did not head for the Taj and Oberoi hotels, which too came under attack from the terrorists, and chose instead to go to the Cama hospital near where he got killed.

Antulay argued that the slain officer could have done better at the hotel sites.

Rudy urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to clarify if Antulay’s remarks were “individual misdemeanour or the collective wisdom of the cabinet”.

Shiv Sena’s Ananth Geethe accused Antulay of bringing in a needless divide when the country was trying to unite after the Mumbai carnage, for which India has blamed Pakistani terrorists.

The Congress party distanced itself from Antulay. “The Congress does not accept it,” said spokesman Abhishek Singhvi.

The government, official sources said, was deeply embarrassed.

Police officers across the country denounced Antulay.

Former Delhi Police chief Ved Marwah said Antulay had done “injustice to the memory of a very brave officer” by suggesting that his death might be linked to Malegaon blasts that has led to the arrests of Hindu radicals.

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