Malegaon blast accused Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, who was granted bail by the Supreme Court in the 2008 Malegaon blast case after nine years in prison, has repeatedly argued that he was the Army’s mole in radical Hindu organisations. This was also a key argument in his plea for bail. However, a 2011 inquiry report of the Directorate General of Military Intelligence (DGMI) had found his presence in several of the Hindutva group meetings to be “illegal”.
The DGMI probe, which began in October 2008, shortly after Purohit’s name cropped up in the 2008 Malegaon blast, revealed that beginning October 2007, Purohit used his “relaxed work environment” at the Army Education Corps (AEC) Training College to hold meetings and negotiations with prominent religious leaders and arms dealers. Most of these meetings — with people such as Swami Aseemanand, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, then RSS chief K S Sudarshan, VHP chief Praveen Togadia, Art of Living guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and an arms dealer from Bangladesh with radical Hindutva links — were illegal, the probe held.
Among his various records of absence from the AEC college, the DGMI report details one on December 24, 2007, when he attended a meeting organised by Swami Aseemanand in Pune. “The meeting was attended by Vilas Pawar of Sree Ram Sena (Karnataka), Pramod Muthalik of Hindustan Rashtriya Sena, Bharat Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai of Vivekanand Kendra (Gujarat) and Dr Seetharamaiah (Andhra Pradesh). Abhinav Bharat (the radical organisation founded by Purohit) was represented by Sudhkar Chaturvedi, Ajay Rahirkar and the officer,” the report said.
It said Aseemanand had called the meeting to persuade attendants to merge Abhinav Bharat with existing Hindutva organisations but was not successful. “Officer’s presence at the meeting was illegal,” said the report. On February 16-17, 2008, the report said, Purohit visited Kolkata and interacted with Bangladeshi national Raju Saha for weapon procurement. “Swami Aseemanand, Ms Himani Savarkar, Sameer Kulkarni and Bharat Bhai were present in Kolkata. Offr’s (officer’s) interaction with BD national was illegal,” the report said.
Between March 3 and March 15, 2008, the report said, Purohit met “RSS chief Sri Sudershanji (former RSS chief K S Sudarshan) at Jabalpur and apprised him on (RSS leader) Indreshji’s linkages with ISI”. In the same period, the report said, during his stay in Pune, Purohit received one 9 mm pistol, along with 12 rounds of ammunition from Rakesh Dhavde, an accused in the Malegaon case. He also directed Ajay Rahirkar, Abhinav Bharat’s treasurer, to give Rs 3.2 lakh to Dhavde for weapon procurement, the report said. “This was an illegal activity undertaken by the offr,” the report said.
On April 11-12, 2008, the report said, Purohit visited Bhopal and organised the first public meeting of Abhinav Bharat. At the meeting were Aseemanand, Shankaracharya alias Amritanand Dev Tirth, Sadhvi Pragya, Ramji Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange (all accused in various Hindutva terror cases). “The officer initially denied his presence at the meeting but on confrontation with Sadhvi, Lt Col Purohit admitted of his illegal presence during the function,” the report said.
Between June 23 and June 28, the report said, Purohit, along with Malegaon blast accused Major Ramesh Upadhyay, visited Bangalore and sought monetary support from AOL’s Ravishankar but received “only air fare”.
The report also gave details of Purohit’s activities during the period leading to the Malegaon blast on September 29, 2008. According to the report, Purohit took leave and visited Indore, Mumbai and Ujjain between August 1 and August 3, 2008. At the same time, “wealthy RSS supporter” Shyam Apte and Abhinav Bharat’s Ajay Rahirkar also travelled to Indore to meet Shankaracharya. During the meeting, the report said, Shankaracharya and Purohit took Rs 5 lakh from Apte to buy a vehicle and a grenade, the report said. The same evening, Purohit flew to Mumbai where he met Praveen Togadia, the report said.
Between August 29 and September 27, 2008, Purohit again travelled to Ujjain and Indore, where he met various people associated with Abhinav Bharat and also those involved in the Malegaon blast, the report said. “Lt Col Purohit did not agree to his travel to Indore, but on confrontation with tech inputs, confirmed his presence. It appears that final preparation for IED in Malegaon was underway,” the report said. It also said, “Malegaon Bomb Blast coincided with Birth Day celebrations of Lt Col Purohit’s younger son. It may not be a mere coincidence.”
Purohit at Colaba unit
Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit has been posted at the Colaba unit of the Southern Command Liaison Unit (SCLU) of the Military Intelligence. On Wednesday, Purohit’s picture donning his Army uniform went viral on social media.
“Military rules mandate an officer who is released on bail to report to his unit and intimate his office about his release. Adhering to the rule, Col Purohit reported to the Colaba station. He was told by the Army that he has been posted at the Colaba unit of SCLU,” said a family source.
“Purohit is placed under a Discipline and Vigilance (DV) ban. While he won’t be entitled for any promotion or career advancement courses until he is acquitted by a competent court, he would be required to report to work every day,” said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity. ENS