Can’t Expect Anything Better From Pragya Thakur: Julio Ribeiro

“BJP is bringing extremists to mainstream,” says former Mumbai CP Julio Ribeiro condemning Sadhvi Pragya’s remarks.

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“I never expected anything better from Pragya Thakur,” says former Mumbai police Commissioner and DG of Punjab police Julio Ribeiro just over a week after the BJP’s Bhopal candidate’s remark against martyr Hemant Karkare, kicked up a furore.

While addressing a rally, Pragya Thakur, who is an accused in the Malegaon blast case, had claimed that she had cursed Karkare, who was heading the investigation in the case, leading to his death in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Reacting to Thakur’s remarks, Ribeiro questions BJP’s decision to grant her a ticket to contest the polls.

“How does this party choose a person like Pragya Thakur, who berates and talks so loosely about a person of the calibre of Hemant Karkare, who was much respected in the Mumbai and Maharashtra police and even outside? He has even worked in the Centre and a lot of people have come across him in the course of their work and everybody has such a good opinion of him.”
Julio Ribeiro, former DG, Punjab Police & ex- Mumbai CP

Ribeiro said that he knew Karkare personally, “He was a very, very fine officer and certainly not someone who would do the kind of things that Pragya Thakur is now alleging against him,” he added.

Recalling that Pragya Thakur was earlier booked by the Madhya Pradesh authorities for alleged involvement in the murder case of RSS activist Sunil Joshi in 2007, Ribeiro questioned the BJP’s decision to allow more and more ‘extremist’ candidates to contest from across the country.

“I am inclined to believed that the BJP is keen on including in the mainstream, their extremist fringe. They had already done that with Yogi Adityanath, made him the chief minister of our biggest state, UP. At that time, we were rather amazed but now they have given tickets to Giriraj Singh and so many others who are extremists.”
Julio Ribeiro, former DG, Punjab Police & ex Mumbai CP

“I don’t know what is happening to our country. It is such a good county. I grieve for our future generations,” he added.

The recent slew of remarks by many BJP leaders who referred to the armed forces as ‘Modi’s Army’ and ‘Modi’s Air Force’ could affect the morale of the armed forces, believes Ribeiro.

While UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s explanation on referring to the Indian Army as "Modi ji ki sena" was rejected by the Election Commission, Amit Shah’s recent comment stating, “Narendra Modi ordered his Air Force” too has sparked outrage.

The former Mumbai CP states that he has never seen this happen before.

“Biggest danger in what they are doing is, it might affect the army morale and I think that is on the cards. They don’t seem to realise that. I don’t think that had they realised, they would have done it because I genuinely believe that they are interested in our army and our defences.”
Julio Ribeiro, former DG, Punjab Police & ex Mumbai CP

However, he adds that the election commission should have taken a stronger stand against such remarks. “The election commission could have acted much more forcibly but they are afraid to do so because Mr Modi is rather quite a threatening figure,” he adds.

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