Tehelka Investigates the truth behind the Accused No.9 of Malegaon Blast

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Col. Purohit with his wife Aparna
Col. Purohit with his wife Aparna

He was just a 10-year-old when the Army bug bit him. At 22, he joined Indian Army as a Lieutenant in 15 Maratha Light Infantry and went on to become an exemplary Army intelligence officer. At 46, his identity has been reduced to an alleged master mind of a bomb blast. This is the story of Lt Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit, accused number 9, of Malegaon blast case who has been languishing in jail for last eight years without trial.

Aparna Purohit, wife of Lt Col Purohit claims that her husband is innocent and has always kept his seniors in the loop whatever intelligence operations he was in. The Army court of Inquiry held to check into Purohit’s activities has many revelations which not only validates statement of keeping his seniors in the loop but also raises questions about the conduct of Army personnel to hand him over ATS. But the ATS and later the NIA believes that Purohit is guilty of masterminding the attack. The truth only the court’s final decision will reveal but Purohit’s story is a complex and intriguing tale of how a high-ranking military intelligence officer came to be accused of being the brain behind a bomb blast in the very country he is supposed to be protecting.

Purohit has mentioned in his statuary complaint letter dated August 5, 2009, to his then Commandant of AEC school and center, that while leaving Panchmarhi he was told by Colonel RK Shrivastav to not to carry any mobile phone and his phone was deposited at an Adjutant office at AEC. After reaching Bhopal airport, he was informed by Shrivastav that they were going to Mumbai instead of Delhi and was told strictly to not contact anybody by threatening him with physical assault. On reaching Mumbai he was taken to Khandala and was illegally detained and tortured for seven days (Oct 29 to Nov 5) at a civilian bungalow by Colonel RK Shrivastav and ATS. After this, on 5th November 2008, he was declared officially arrested by ATS. He narrates further in his complaint that Col Shrivastava was the one who initiated physical torture on him after which police and intelligence bureau officials also brutally assaulted him. Shrivastav was forcing him to accept his alleged involvement in Malegaon blast, alleges the complaint.

Aparna Purohit: Fighting for her husband's freedom who, without trial, is languishing in the jail since last 8 years
Aparna Purohit: Fighting for her husband’s freedom, who, without trial, is languishing in the jail for the last 8 years

He kept on threatening me that if I don’t own up my involvement in the Malegaon bomb blast, he (Col Shrivastav) would strip my mother, wife and sister and makes them parade naked in front of me.”

According to the documents accessible to Tehelka, in ‘Army Court of inquiry’ it was mentioned by the then deputy director general military intelligence that Col R K Shrivastav “was sent to act as a medium between Army, Police and sister intelligence agencies and to maintain the dignity of Lt Col Purohit.” He also said in the court of inquiry that ‘movement order’ to Mumbai was to be handed over to Colonel Purohit. It is mentioned that Colonel RK Shrivastav didn’t have any authority to interrogate or torture Purohit. Purohit was officially missing from Army records from October 29 to November 4.

An interesting point in the Purohit’s case is that Captain Nitin Joshi the only witness who testified against him has written a complaint to Maharashtra state human rights commission stating that he was forced by ATS to implicate Purohit. He was threatened and blackmailed to give statements against Purohit in court.

Lt Col Purohit was considered as an exceptional intelligence officer and was widely appreciated for his expertise on ISI and SIMI. His annual confidential reports are full of praises from his senior officers for his intelligence skills. Many times he was called by ATS to impart lectures and training to its officers and was widely appreciated by senior IPS officers like Himanshu Roy and KP Raghuvanshi.

(The full story is published in Issue 13, Tehelka Magazine)