On November 4, 2008, Lt Colonel Shrikant Purohit, a serving Army officer was arrested for his involvement in the blasts. Subsequently the investigation by Maharashtra ATS revealed that several of the accused may have been involved in other attacks such as the Modasa blast in Gujarat, the Malegaon blast of 2006, the Mecca Masjid Blast in Hyderabad in 2007 and the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast. The matter soon took a political turn with the BJP and the Shiv Sena alleging the ATS of harbouring political motives behind the arrests and the Congress for using the ATS for political gains. Well, in nine years, many things have changed even the government in Maharashtra too and also the ATS officer who arrested Purohit was killed by Pakistani terrorist.
Now, the Supreme Court has granted bail to Lt. Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit, one of the key accused of the 2008 Malegaon blasts case that killed seven and injured 79 people. Purohit had spent nine years in prison. His bail plea was earlier rejected by the Bombay High Court following which he approached the apex court. If you join the dots Purohit’s case sends shockwaves. At the time when Malegaon bomb blast case investigation was in progress, Purohit was undergoing a course in Arabic language in the AEC (Army Education Corps) Training College and Centre at Panchmarhi in Madhya Pradesh. He had specifically requested this 18 months long course in writing and the same was strongly recommended by the Commanding Officer of Southern Command Liaison Unit of Military Intelligence, based on his service profile, experience and performance. Before that he was posted in Devlali in district Nashik as an Intelligence Officer of the Southern Command Liaison Unit, Pune. Purohit was deputed to the Intelligence Wing of the Indian Army after he suffered a serious knee injury during anti-terrorist operations in Kashmir. His knee had to be reconstructed and the doctors advised him not to undertake any serious physical activity such as running or mountain climbing. That made him unfit for resuming his earlier job in the Infantry Division of the Army.
Even while undergoing the Arabic Language course at Panchmarhi in MP, he remained professionally active since intelligence gathering is a continuous process. This was recorded in the form of statements by witnesses who have been examined during the court of inquiry conducted by the Army after his arrest. By all accounts, Purohit had developed an effective intelligence network and was successful in putting together useful information about the infamous terror group, SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) and its links with Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence). Purohit’s service record shows that he had received several commendation certificates for good performance. The Confidential Reports (CR’s) by his seniors were also consistently positive.
Meanwhile the Anti-Terrorism Squad, Mumbai, arrested Purohit in January 2009 on charges under Indian Penal Code and the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), 1999, a special law to combat organised crime and terrorism. In 2011, the probe was taken over by the National Investigation Agency and in 2015, the apex court had denied him bail since serious charges were made under the MCOCA. In 2016, the agency in a supplementary chargesheet dropped charges under the MCOCA after which Purohit made a fresh plea for bail in the Supreme Court.
The NIA argued against his bail plea, saying they have preliminary evidence against Purohit. NIA has relied upon the transcription of the conversations of the meetings obtained from the laptop of Swami Amrutanand, another accused in the case.
Now the question remains here is, the consideration before this court is whether in the present facts and circumstances of the case, the Purohit has made out a case for grant of bail or not? The court said that since the NIA’s supplementary chargesheet is at variance with the one filed by the ATS, the trial is likely to take a long time and given that Purohit has been in prison for about eight years and eight months, he makes a case for granting bail. Purohit’s bail order shows that the case’s trajectory has vastly shifted since his arrest. Probe agencies have differed with each other and the inscrutable delay in filing of a comprehensive chargesheet for eight years is hard to explain. The apex court is currently hearing a plea opposing bail granted to Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, another accused in the case.
If you look at the chronology of the events and where the investigation took place, the mindset of the people etc. it is so easy to make a case weak or strong. Courts are partially biased and corrupt as disclosed by former justice of Supreme Court Justice Katju and many others. The government can influence a case to the extent that even if one has proof like black and white, while representing the case the fact will either not presented to the court or may be presented. Considering the intent of present Federal government, it is highly unlikely, a case like this is going to proceed leading to the conviction. You have seen it repeatedly in Gujarat and Mumbai. Not surprised by the decision of the court, the court may be right if proper proofs are not presented. One can never expect true justice in India. Democracy is a hoax.
Meanwhile, there are different interpretations of the same case by different courts. The army would know much more than the courts about the case. The Army bosses at the time of Malegaon blast should tell the truth whether the officer was a rogue or a hero. If he is indeed innocent, then the judicial system should compensate him for the loss of honour, money, promotions, family life and above all dignity. In any case, it is inhuman to deny someone bail for so long without charge sheeting or trial. Late Hemant Karkare, a respected, brilliant and valiant IPS officer was the one who booked Lt Colonel Purohit. Therefore; the whole case is confusing to say the least.
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