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Malegaon blasts: What worked in Purohit’s favour

A report confirmed that Purohit had briefed his superiors in the Army about details of the three ‘Abhinav Bharat’ meetings that he had attended in January 2008.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Aug 23, 2017, 01.21 AM IST
After 9 years, Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit walks out of jail
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NEW DELHI: Did Lt Col Shrikant Purohit take part in meetings of ‘Abhinav Bharat’ outfit as part of a counter-terror operation or was he an active part of the conspiracy to cause the 2008 Malegaon blasts?

When a trial court at some stage decides upon this question, it will have only a bunch of audio recordings to go by. National Investigation Agency (NIA) is resting its case on these recordings to term Purohit as the “mastermind”. It submitted so in a charge-sheet in the present government’s regime. NIA is armed with a report from Forensic Science Laboratory which confirms the voice on the tape is his.

The recordings are from three meetings that Purohit attended eight months before the blasts, and as per the NIA, he allegedly “discussed” about taking revenge of the atrocities committed by Muslims on Hindus. Another recording is his intercepted call with an accused post the blasts, which the NIA says has him saying that “cat is out of the bag”, discuss the need to engage a lawyer and being more careful. But before that, let’s list what all is in Purohit’s favour and helped him get bail from the apex court.

One, there are no material witnesses against him. Three such witnesses, who earlier claimed to the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) that Purohit was integral to the conspiracy, went back on their statements when confronted by the NIA. They in fact alleged pressure and torture on part of the ATS.

Two, the charge by ATS that Purohit supplied RDX for the blasts stood demolished in the NIA report that showed an ATS officer planted RDX in house of one of the accused. In fact, the NIA even exonerated two accused who were charged of transporting RDX to Maharashtra on Purohit’s behalf.

Three, and perhaps most important, is the report of the Court of Inquiry by the Ministry of Defence before the trial court now, that confirmed that Purohit had briefed his superiors in the Army about details of the three ‘Abhinav Bharat’ meetings that he had attended in January 2008. Purohit has questioned why he would do so if he was indulging in a terror conspiracy, and to buttress his claim that this was part of his counter-intelligence job.

Four, NIA has been unable to prove that the two men who planted the bomb in September 2008 and are absconding till date, Ramji Kalsangre and Sandeep Dange, were part of any meetings attended by Purohit or had any telephonic contact with him ever. NIA still terms him the mastermind. It says his recorded conversations are damning as the said meetings discuss establishment of a Hindu Rashtra with a new flag, establishing a government in exile and “excommunicating” those who resist the ideology.

Supreme Court, which has granted him bail after eight years of incarnation, has not gone into merits of such material. But Purohit’s defence is that the discussion was only in the context of “then prevailing political and social situation” and had no connection with the Malegaon blasts. He also claims that his call to a co-accused post the blasts was only aimed at guarding the role of ‘Military Intelligence’ because of the international ramifications.

Will the court be convinced by this bunch of recordings? Only a speedy trial can reveal if Purohit is an operative framed by two sets of investigators or whether it is simply a case of an officer gone rogue.

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