A key defence of 2008 Malegaon blast accused Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit, who stepped out of Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai Wednesday after being granted bail by the Supreme Court, was that he had infiltrated radical Hindutva groups as an intelligence officer and had informed his superiors about it.
In interviews, Purohit maintained that the Army always stood by him. But an inquiry, conducted by the Directorate General of Military Intelligence after it was informed by the Intelligence Bureau of his involvement, found that he had taken counter-measures to dissociate himself from the blast case and generated intelligence on the alleged involvement of accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur after learning from his sources that she was going to be held by the Maharashtra ATS.
The inquiry concluded that “the officer is highly indoctrinated, deals with illegal proliferation of weapons and hiding facts”. The inquiry report also said that his wife, Aparna Purohit, “revealed that her husband has deep hatred for Islam and he may be involved in activities directed against them”.
The inquiry report, dated July 27, 2011, was signed by a Major General, the then ADG MI (B). It stated that the first information regarding involvement of Lt Col Purohit was verbally conveyed by the then IB Director to the then Chief of Army Staff on October 22, 2008. At that time, Purohit was enrolled for a course in Arabic language at AEC Training College, Pachmarhi. The Malegaon blasts, which killed eight persons and left another 80 injured, took place on September 29, 2008.
However, by the time Director of MI 9 reached Pachmarhi to confront Purohit, the report stated, the element of surprise was lost since the media had already begun reporting on the alleged involvement of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, and the raid by the Maharashtra ATS at Purohit’s house in Pune. “Thus the officer was aware of him being subjected to questioning on specific issues. In fact, the officer had already taken adequate counter-measures to obliterate his linkages with the perpetrators by informing key persons to switch off mobile and adopt cover stories,” the report stated.
“In addition, on 13 Oct 08, on receiving confirmation from his informers about apprehension of Sadhvi by ATS, he telephonically informed CO SCLU, IO SCLU (Devlali) and initiated a written report to CCLU Team at Jabalpur intimating involvement of Sadhvi Pragya Singh in the Malegaon Bomb Blast,” the report stated.
It said that during inquiry and interrogation, “his arrogant behaviour, occasional absence from class, extreme religious mindset and attempt to purchase semi-auto carbine from… a retired AEC officer settled in Pachmarhi was revealed”. The officers who conducted the inquiry also met Purohit’s wife who “appeared in state of shock and even accused him for not heeding to her advice to disassociate with religious activities. She further revealed that her husband has deep hatred for Islam and he may be involved in activities directed against them,” the report stated.
The inquiry found that Purohit maintained a well-stocked library with books on Shivaji, Arabic language, ornithology and children’s literature. “He specifically mentioned a book written by a Marathi author on mindset of Islam. A magazine of Hindu Mahasabha (Savarkar Gp) was also placed in the house. He took pride in explaining that books on Shivaji were purchased from a defunct library. An old sword was displayed in his house which he linked to Maratha Army of Peshwas,” the report stated.
The report mentioned an SUV and six phones that the officer owned. “Between 07 Oct and 24 Oct 08, he used these mobile nos to warn his associates through direct calls and SMS. His close associates were told to switch off mobile no. and take new sim,” it stated. According to the report, when Purohit was questioned about his association with Abhinav Bharat, accused Ramesh Upadhyay and Bhonsala Military Academy, he was evasive. It said Purohit “did not give clue on the extent of his involvement”.