Lt. Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit, released after nearly nine years in jail when the Supreme Court granted him bail on August 21, hinted in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon after he assumed office, that the sitting president of a major political party was behind the conspiracy that saw him decoyed from his posting at Pachmarhi, MP, to Mumbai, where the Anti Terror Squad (ATS) made an illegal civilian arrest of a serving Army officer.
Purohit suggests the conspiracy was masterminded by more powerful forces than the Maharashtra ATS…
Purohit has hinted at having uncovered dark secrets while taking an 18-month Arabic course at Pachmarhi, MP, while continuing to gather intelligence as an officer of the Military Intelligence, and pleaded for an in-depth investigation of the same. Purohit is one of the country’s leading experts on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), and renowned for his work in counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence in Kashmir and Maharashtra. In fact, his very success provoked his ruination at the hands of as yet unidentified forces.
Writing from judicial custody in Taloja Central Prison in Navi Mumbai (PSP/55224/Official Corres/14, dated May 31, 2014), Purohit, an accused in the Malegaon 2008 bomb blast case, claims that the entire case against him was fabricated and stage-managed by the Maharashtra ATS, for reasons best known to them and their policy makers [read political masters]. His appeals in this regard to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, and even the then President of India, fell on deaf ears.
Purohit suggests the conspiracy was masterminded by more powerful forces than the Maharashtra ATS, and states that he had drawn Dr. Manmohan Singh’s attention to “the attempts of politicizing the case by the president incumbent of the National Congress Party”; the word Congress was subsequently cut and deleted for ‘Political’ Party in pencil. The letter is written in ink. Purohit makes a dig at Singh’s “ventriloquism” in the matter!
Explaining the case, Purohit says a bomb blast took place in Malegaon town of Maharashtra on September 29, 2008, in which seven persons died and many were injured. At the time, Purohit was in distant Pachmarhi.
Informed sources claim Purohit had uncovered and aborted at least seven terror attacks in the country and had advance knowledge of the forthcoming attack on November 2008, which possibly led to his downfall.
On October 24, 2008,, Col. R.K. Srivastava arrived at Pachmarhi from Army Headquarters with instructions to facilitate Purohit’s interaction with ATS Maharashtra Police. Srivastava also had instructions to bring Purohit to Delhi to meet with Military Intelligence-20. Purohit says Srivastava did not convey any of these messages to him, and in fact treated him shabbily from the start.
On October 29, 2008, the Adjutant of the Army Education Corps and Training Centre (AEC) gave Purohit his movement order (without which he could not leave his duty station), which directed him to report to Director MI-20 at Army Hqrs. Srivastava asked him to leave his mobile phone with the Adjutant. Purohit’s family believed he was going to Delhi.
At the Bhopal Airport, however, Col. Srivastava forced him to board a flight to Mumbai, under a false movement order, and he had no means of communicating with his family. it is notable that an Army Court of Inquiry in 2009 upheld Purohit’s claim of abduction, kidnapping and illegal detention by Col. Srivastava. Various witnesses (Lt. Col. G.C. Mohanta, then Adjutant of AEC; Brigadier Rajkumar, then DDG MI, and others) confirmed that Purohit was moved on a false movement order.
On reaching Mumbai on the night of October 29, 2008, he was taken in a white Sumo to a civilian bungalow at Khandala, on the Mumbai-Pune highway. He remained here until November 4, 2008, in the illegal custody of ATS officers who subjected him to unspeakable mental and physical torture. Depraved threats were made against the women members of his family. The worst offenders included then ATS chief, Hemant Karkare (d. Mumbai 2008), then Addl. DG Police, Parambir Singh, inspector Arun Khanvilkar (since dismissed from service in another matter), and then Asst. CP, Mohan Kulkarni (since retd).
Aparna Purohit’s attempts to locate her husband in this period failed, as the AEC Adjutant, Lt. Col. G.C. Mohanta, was totally in the dark, having given a movement order for Delhi.
On November 5, 2008, Lt. Col. Purohit was handed over to the Mumbai ATS, an action that was illegal and based on this illegal series of events. He became Accused No. 9 in the Malegaon 2008 bomb blast case.
Tracing events prior to his taking the Arabic course at Pachmarhi, Lt. Col. Purohit served as an intelligence officer with the Southern Command Liaison Unit, Pune, at Devlali, Nasik. One of his registered intelligence sources, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, was made Accused No. 11 in the Malegaon case. The ATS claimed to have arrested him on November 20, 2008, and recorded that the house provided to him in the cantonment area was searched under panchanama on November 25, 2008, where traces of the RDX allegedly used in the Malegaon blast were recovered. The charge sheet stated that the bomb was assembled at Chaturvedi’s house.
This theory exploded during the Army’s Court of Inquiry, when two independent witnesses, Major Pravin Khanzade (Witness 1) and Subedar (then) Keshav K. Pawar (Witness 2) revealed that on November 3, 2008 (two days before Purohit’s arrest and 17 days before Chaturvedi’s arrest), the two of them had caught an ATS Asst. police inspector, Shekhar Bagade, planting evidence at Chaturvedi’s house. On being caught, he had pleaded with them not to report his presence there. But Major Khanzade reported the incident to all his seniors in Devlali and to Hqrs. Southern Command, Pune. The statements of Khanzade and Pawar figure on page 330 (July 8, 2009,) and page 426 (July 27, 2009,) of the official record of the Court of Inquiry.
Clearly, the ATS officers who fabricated the evidence against Chaturvedi prior to the arrest of Purohit and Chaturvedi could not have planned for the written testimony of Major Khanzade to his superiors! With this explosive evidence available to it in 2009, the Army authorities clearly realized they were sitting on a very deep-rooted conspiracy that went back to highly influential persons in Lutyens Delhi. They seem to have decided that their best course was to preserve the evidence for a better day – a wise move.
The ATS managed to compromise some of Purohit’s carefully crafted intelligence network. Three of his registered intelligence operators were made co-accused in the case and four were made witnesses against him.
It is fairly obvious that only a mole(s) inside the Pune Military Intelligence unit could leak the names of Purohit’s registered sources to the ATS. It seems likely that the registered assets of other serving military intelligence officers may also have been compromised in this period – not only in Maharashtra but other States as well. The Government of India and Hqrs. of all Services need to make subtle inquiries in this regard.
In March-April 2011, the case was handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which too, failed to file a charge sheet (till date).
Purohit ends his missive urging the Prime Minister to ensure the release of all innocents in the case, not just himself. Calling himself an old war horse that responds to one call of the bugle, he prays for the “singular honor” of serving “my most revered and beloved motherland”.
This letter brought tears to the eyes of even veteran soldiers with whom it was shared. It is incumbent upon the Government to give the soldier back his honor and the accolades that are his legitimate due.
The investigations must begin with the first attack on Hindu sacred spaces outside Jammu and Kashmir – Akshardham, Ahmedabad, September 2002 – and the creation of the ‘Hindu Terror’ narrative under the auspices of the Sonia-Gandhi led United Progressive Alliance.
Above all, statutory action must be taken against Col. R.K. Srivastava, and the surviving members of the Mumbai ATS – Addl. DG Police, Parambir Singh, inspector Arun Khanvilkar and Asst. CP, Mohan Kulkarni. Hemant Karkare’s disgraceful conduct also needs to be put on record.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.