Sadhvi Pragya’s karma postulate militates against logic

Thakur will be part of the 21-member committee headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Photo: PTI/File

If Sadhvi Pragya Thakur’s theory of “bad” karma being the root cause of 26/11 martyr Hemant Karkare’s death is right, even for argument’s sake, what deplorable karma explains her own incarceration on terror charges for nine years?

Thakur’s selective application of the karma theory to Karkare is completely flawed. She claims to have cursed Karkare to an untimely death as a punishment for torturing her. But, Karkare died like a hero, fighting for his country and is hailed as a man who took the bullet on his chest even when he could have put personal safety ahead of duty.

In India, like in many other cultures, martyrdom for the country is considered the highest form of sacrifice, a death bestowed only on the exceptionally brave and virtuous. So, Thakur’s pompous belief that Karkare’s death was the result of her curse is theologically as well as theoretically incorrect.

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According to eyewitness accounts of the 26/11 night, Karkare was having dinner when he heard of the terror attack. Like a true patriot and a brave police officer, he immediately left with a small force to defend the country. On the way, his convoy was attacked by two terrorists—one of them was Ajmal Kasab, who was later caught alive by the police—with gunfire, leading to his death. For his selfless service and courage, Karkare was posthumously awarded the Ashok Chakra, India’s highest award for gallantry during peacetime.

Had Thakur, a self-proclaimed sadhvi (divine/virtuous woman), taken the trouble of reading the Gita, where the karma theory is expounded in great detail, she would have realised Karkare was an embodiment of the principle of ‘karmanye vadhikaraste ma phaleshu kada chana (you have the right to do your duty but do not expect fruits)and, thus, was   a person of great virtue. And it is precisely for his karma, Karkare is hailed as a nation’s hero and a role model for his colleagues.

Compare Karkare’s life with that of Thakur’s. Though she is running for parliament, courtesy the BJP’s desire to appease hardline Hindus, her only claim to fame is self-attested victimhood. In the past she has been accused of murdering her former colleague Sunil Joshi—she was later acquitted—and is still facing trial for her alleged role in the 2008 Malegaon blasts. Because the case against her is well documented, the concerned court did not drop her name from the chargesheet even when the National Investigative Agency under the Narendra Modi government gave her a clean chit. She is currently out on bail on health grounds, which, ironically, do not stop her for campaigning in the elections.

We don’t know what Karkare’s station in post life is. But, by her own admission, Thakur went through nine years of hell, enduring torture, humiliation and endless pain. So, to turn Thakur’s theory around, what karma led to her miserable plight?

In any other country with a modicum of political morality, Thakur would have been looked at with suspicion till she was acquitted of all the charges after a fair trial. And, had she been a Muslim, the very Indians who are hailing her candidature in the name of Hindu pride, would have called her a kalank (blot), cried ‘tabah ho gaye (we’ve been destroyed)’ and labelled her patrons as anti-national who should be immediately dispatched to Pakistan. To understand how they would have reacted, you just need to look back at the noise we make every time Hafiz Saeed and his party contest an election in Pakistan. But, as they say, one man’s terrorist is another person’s religious idol.

Her candidature and its irrational defence by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself exposes the BJP’s hypocrisy. Since the 2019 campaign began, it has been underlining its anti-terror credentials. But, by selecting and defending a terror accused, it has conducted a surgical strike on Indian democracy. Now that fielding a terror accused is legit, tomorrow there will be justification for mainstreaming many other accused of more serious crimes.

Modi’s defence that Thakur be treated with the same dignity reserved for Rahul and Sonia Gandhi, both of whom have been granted bail in the National Herald case, is a rhetoric devoid of logic. The Gandhis have been dragged to court by the BJP’s Subramanian Swami on charges of financial irregularities, not exploding bombs to kill members of a particular community. Unlike Thakur, whose case was investigated by the anti-terror squad led by a decorated martyr, who was arrested on charges of murder by a government led by the very party that has now fielded her, the Gandhis are fighting against a political rival.

Even if the Gandhis were accused of a bigger crime, Modi’s argument that the Congress also has tainted candidates in the election ring so the BJP will find people with more serious charges is pure opportunism. Modi is supposed to be the leader of a country, the guardian of its democratic principles, not the head of an ideology that justifies clean chits to person’s accused of mass murders on the basis of religion.

Since the BJP swears by Lord Rama, his principles of maryada (honour/dignity), it would not be out of place to remind its leaders that their preferred deity subjected even Sita to trial by fire—whether it was right or wrong is an altogether different debate— before according her rightful place (and then again banished her to exile). But, the proponents of Ram Rajya have no moral qualms about the candidature of a woman under trial for serious charges.

The BJP is, of course, committing a blunder by pursuing bigotry for political gains. It is belittling an ancient religion that gave the world great role models by foisting a person like Thakur is its symbol. By asking voters to rally behind Thakur in the name of religion, the BJP is telling the world Hindus can’t do better than avenge the imagined, real or perceived victimhood of the alleged mastermind of a terror strike.

Unfortunately, a country gets the leaders it deserves and a religion finds the idols it prays for.

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