New Delhi: The Government appeared embarrassed and the Opposition got an opportunity to score a point after Minority Affairs Minister A R Antulay denied doubting that terrorists killed a senior police officer in Mumbai.
Antulay denied making controversial statements on the murder of chief of Maharashtra police’s anti-terrorist squad, Hemant Karkare, who was killed during the Mumbai terror attacks on November 26.
“Whether he (Karkare) was just a victim of terror or something (else), I don’t know,” said Antulay on Wednesday morning about the deaths of Karkare and two other police officers.
After the BJP and Shiv Sena criticised him, Antulay changed his stand and told Parliament he had not talked about who killed the police officers but about who "sent them in the wrong direction".
"Who had sent them to Cama Hospital (where terrorists struck). What were they told that made them leave for the same spot in the same vehicle.
"I repeat what I had said. I had not said who had killed them but only questioned who had sent them there (Cama Hospital) in that direction," said Antulay in the Lok Sabha.
His statement in the House differs from what he said a few hours earlier. "There is more than what meets the eyes," Antulay said in the morning about Karkare’s death.
“Karkare was a very bold officer. I know his acumen was great. He had vision and was prepare to lay down life for country at any time. Now how come instead of going to the Taj (Hotel) or the Oberoi (Hotel) he went to such a place where there was nothing?” said Antulay.
"Karkare found that there are non-Muslims involved in the acts of terrorism during his investigations in some cases. Any person going to the roots of terror has always been the target," he said, hinting about the investigation into the Malegaon blast.
"Superficially speaking they (terrorists) had no reason to kill Karkare. Whether he (Karkare) was victim of terrorism or terrorism plus something. I do not know."
"It may be a separate inquiry how his (Karkare's) end came," he told reporters outside Parliament.
The BJP slammed Antulay’s statements and wanted the Prime Minister to clarify whether his remarks are an "individual misdemeanour or the collective wisdom of the Cabinet".
"The remarks are obnoxious and deserve a clarification from the Prime Minister," said BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy.
Shiv Sena member Anant Geete raised the issue in the Lok Sabha and demanded that the Home Minister issue a clarification on Antulay's statement.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said Anutaly’s statements were his personal views and not that of the party. "The Congress certainly does not subscribe to his remarks or with his formulation," said Singhvi. "He made the remarks in his individual capacity."