2019 lok sabha electionsbhopalDigvijaya SinghHemant Karkare First Published: April 25, 2019, 4:30 PM IST Bhopal: The fight for the Bhopal Lok Sabha, already a riveting contest so far, has turned more intense after a former subordinate of late Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare threw his hat into the ring. Former Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Riyazuddin Deshmukh, a resident of Aurangabad, filed his nomination as an Independent candidate from Bhopal on April 23, the last day of submitting the papers for the seat. The former cop had served under Karkare, who was killed while fighting terrorists during the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai. The BJP’s Bhopal candidate, Pragya Thakur Singh, had waded into a controversy last week when she claimed that Karkare lost his life a little over a month after she cursed him. Thakur’s angry outburst against Karkare for alleged custodial torture was also criticised by the IPS Association, which demanded that the “sacrifices of all our martyrs be respected”.Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts that were probed by Karkare, is currently out on bail. She is contesting against the Congress party’s Digvijaya Singh, who was considered to be quite close to Karkare. Although Thakur later retracted her comments on Karkare and offered an apology, the Election Commission had served her a notice.“Soon after Pragya’s candidature was decided, I made up my mind to contest against her because I can’t see anyone maligning one of the finest and the most upright officers in Maharashtra,” Deshmukh had told a national daily after submitting his nomination. “Karkare guided me in all my professional matters and always stood by me.”Deshmukh, who came in touch with Karkare when both of them were posted at Akola, retired in Amravati in Maharashtra and lived in Aurangabad since then. The 60-year-old cop has reported an income of Rs 5.60 lakh per annum in his affidavit.Deshmukh has identified himself as a former government officer and shown a government pension. He has listed an MBA degree in human resources, which he pursued in 2014.The Marathi community, which has a sizable presence in Bhopal, had expressed its anguish against Thakur for allegedly maligning the image of a brave officer. The community has protested in the city against Thakur once, with another demonstration scheduled in the state capital on Thursday.