The Supreme Court on Monday granted bail to Lt. Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit in the 2008 Malegaon serial blast case.
“We set aside order of Bombay High Court.” the bench of Justice R K Agrawal and AM Sapre said while granting conditional bail to Lt Colonel Purohit.
The Lieutenant Colonel served in the Indian Army between 2002-2005 taking part in the counter-terrorism operation throughout Jammu and Kashmir. He later was shifted to Military intelligence due to some health issues.
After granting bail to other accused Sadvi Pragya Singh in April this year the Supreme Court today granted bail to chief Malegaon accused Lt. Col. Purohit.
In an exclusive interview to NewsX’s Ashish Singh, Col. Purohit revealed all the details of incidents that occurred before he was detained and what atrocities he had to go through during the whole investigation. The interview also reflects on his exposure of the most wanted criminal Daood Ibrahim and how the mafia don operated in India and had links with several naxal groups.
Here are the excerpts:
Ashish Singh: I have read about your case from the documents. I just want to understand from the horse’s mouth. The entire story… how were you picked up… having gone through all the documents of army and court, it appears that there is much more than meets the eye…
Lt Col Purohit: It does
Ashish Singh: Could you tell me please?
Lt Col Purohit: I will speak nothing.
Ashish Singh: Sir, just for my understanding please. I want to understand this entire case. How were you picked up, how were you tortured?
Lt Col Purohit: It’s there in the papers – everything is there in the papers.
Ashish Singh: I just want to understand directly from you how you were picked up. This is one of the main issues in the case.
Lt Col Purohit: See- you must understand one thing. In the army, you cannot move on your own to any place. You have to go on a movement order.
When I was told to go to Delhi, I moved with the understanding that I am going to Delhi but I was made to undertake the journey to Mumbai by Col Shrivastava. I never had that movement order with me. It apparently came up in the court of inquiry. Col Shrivastava had picked up my movement order without me knowing. He had told the officer not to hand over my movement order to me and also not to disclose to me change of destination.
‘Col Purohit should never know where he is going’. That’s how it is and then I was taken to Mumbai, bundled up in a vehicle, taken to bloody Khandala and from 29th to 3rd of November – I faced a nightmare.
Ashish Singh: How? Were you tortured?
Lt Col Purohit: Tortured? I think torture is sober word.
Ashish Singh: What did they do?
Lt Col Purohit: What they did not, they kept pulling my hair, kept me naked; semi nude. What would you say hand cuffed, tight blind folded abuses hurled to my wife, my sister and my mother, they also threatened that they will parade them in front of me and will put them behind the bars.
They threatened that my son will go to orphanage and tied me by my wrist on the horizontal bar my legs stretched you name a thing doesn’t remind me of this.
Ashish Singh: They made you confess for the Malegaon blast? They forced you to confess but you did not?
Lt Col Purohit: Confession is something – if you have done something then you confess. I have done nothing, so what am I supposed to confess?
Ashish Singh: What did they ask you to confess?
Lt Col Purohit: That I am involved in that stupid case.
Ashish Singh: In which a lot of other people have already got bail.
Lt Col Purohit: I am not talking about anything which is subjudice.
Ashish Singh: I have gone through your documents and the court of inquiry. It appears that a lot of it is politics and your lawyers have been suggesting that you are behind the bars just because of your political nature
Lt Col Purohit: you still have doubts about it?
Ashish Singh: What did they do? I have seen your Dawood report. Sir, I just want to understand these reports… right from Dawood to fake currency to a terrorist in Kashmir travelling in a politician’s car
Lt Col Purohit: Yes, it is all there in black and white, I have reported all these matters in the report
Ashish Singh: What all did you report sir? Could you please elaborate?
Lt Col Purohit: As you said these things, Kashmiri terrorist traveling in a politician’s red beacon car. Dawood, his connection with naxalites at the behest of ISI and how he was conducting the coordination part of it, nexus of the fraternity you just talked about, I don’t even want to name them.
I don’t want to talk about politicians as a serving office but then it is that way. The fake currency racket, the involvement of people who call themselves politicians.
I don’t find my performance or performing my duties wrong… if I see something going wrong in this country… I am serving the flag… I am serving the president… I recognize the political party let me tell you. I should not have opinion about politicians and politics neither should I have any inclination or soft corner for them. In my life I have never voted -let me tell you – and I am never going to vote in my life. That is the level I keep myself at…
Ashish Singh: It seems the system has let you down – and the Army.
Lt Col Purohit: No, don’t say anything about Army. I have faith in them they have stood by me, don’t say anything about the Army.
Ashish Singh: You are still a serving officer?
Lt Col Purohit: I am and I would remain one.
Ashish Singh: But they did let you down at one point…
Lt Col Purohit: Don’t even say that. Wrong people go high up at wrong times but the organization is strong. It’s a fantastic organization and I serve it with a lot of pride and honor.
Ashish Singh: You have written a lot of letters. It seems you are fighting for the pride and uniform?
Lt Col Purohit: What else an officer has other than his pride and honor to defend? Tell me? You feel do we work for money in the army? You are sadly mistaken. It is that few grams of brass that matters to us. It is that colored ribbon what matters to us. It matters nothing for civilians and you would never understand these kinds of things. I am talking to you and I am getting Goosebumps. Let me tell you. It (army) is my place. I belong there. I belong to my olive green uniform.
Ashish Singh: You still want to serve the army once you come out?
Lt Col Purohit: Why do you ask me this? You want me to break down? Don’t say this; I am a man from trenches. I have faced bullets. I belong to a martial clan. My pride, my flag, and my family flag I never let anyone down. That’s my army you have gone through my court of enquiry. You must have seen that not a single officer has spoken against me. In fact, it was my open challenge in the court that I surrender my right to examine anyone in my defense. I said call anyone – from sipahi to hawaldar to a general with whom I have served even for a single day. Any one, who says that Col Purohit does not have officer-like qualities, does not have an officer’s character. I said I’ll put down my badges of ranks in front of you. I have no right to serve under you if any one whether in my command or who commands me says that I am not worthy of the uniform.
Ashish Singh: Yes, all 59 officers have given the statement in your favor
Lt Col Purohit: I say it even today; anyone let them say that I’m not worthy to be an officer. I should cease to exist.
Ashish Singh: If the army is completely backing you, the court of enquiry has given you clean chit; officers have given statements in your favor, completely supporting you then is it just a political game? You have irritated a lot of politicians.
Lt Col Purohit: It is for you to answer. For me my job is over, my fight is over.
I was fighting for my papers from the army which they have given me. I have proved through these papers to everyone, whether someone wants to look into it or he doesn’t. It doesn’t matter to me.
Ashish Singh: Sir, I have read a report which you have reported that Dawood was present in Mumbai, his connections and how was his movement?
Lt Col Purohit: Yes. That’s what I am saying. I was doing my job
Ashish Singh: What was it Sir? What did they suggest? One particular thing, I want to ask, who did you report to? What was that report? Do you remember, can you tell us exactly? Like when, where?
Lt Col Purohit: It was 2005, if I remember correctly, in the month of June 5th or 6th June and then it has come in papers, in 2011 then everyone accepted that yes he was there (in Mumbai) and he was acting as a pivot between ISI and Naxals.
Ashish Singh: Colonel, are you telling me he (Dawood) was present in India (in 2005)?
Lt Col Purohit: It is there in papers.
Ashish Singh: But did the authorities act after that? Did anyone take your report seriously? Were you called?
Lt Col Purohit: I can only say that when my reports reached at an appropriate level, they were verified and based on that I was called by ATS superintendent along with senior officers and the senior officers said that in the court of enquiry. When the reports were verified, probably they were found to be correct. That’s why we were invited.