November 20, 2021 11:36:20 pm
IN THE 2008 Malegaon blast case, a witness linked to Abhinav Bharat, allegedly founded by accused Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, denied ever having met him and was declared hostile for not supporting the prosecution. This is the seventh witness so far to turn hostile.
The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which initially probed the case, had claimed that Purohit was a founder member of the Abhinav Bharat trust and that it was being used as a platform to implement the extremist ideology of the accused, linking it to the blast at Malegaon on September 29, 2008, which had caused six deaths and injuries to over 100.
The witness, who was said to have been one of the trustees of the organisation, deposed before the court last week that she had never met Purohit, nor was he present in meetings organised by the members in Pune after it was established in 2006. She also denied that Purohit had control over the expenditure of money received by the trust.
When asked about the statement part of the ATS chargesheet, the witness told the court that she could not remember due to the long span of time whether her statement was recorded at all. The ATS had claimed in its chargesheet that the witness was a trustee of Abhinav Bharat and two of the accused, Purohit and Ajay Rahirkar, were its members. The statement was to establish their link to the trust.
The witness denied that any meetings took place where future action was decided to create patriotism in the minds of Hindu youth among other aspects. The witness also denied knowledge about donations received for the trust and it being registered in 2007. She denied knowing about financial transactions about the trust, its function, programmes or other members.
“I cannot assign any reason as to why these facts are mentioned in my statement. I never met accused Prasad Purohit. Prasad Purohit is present in the court. I know him only because his photographs went viral in the newspapers and TV media that time. It is not true that in order to save the accused I am deposing false,” the witness told the court.
On being cross-examined by accused Sameer Kulkarni, the witness also denied knowing whether he was a member or appointed an in-charge of any of its branches.
Previously, Purohit had said that as an intelligence officer he was collecting information about the group during the course of various meetings and denied any wrongdoing linked to the trust.
Over 200 witnesses have deposed in the case. Seven accused are facing trial on charges including Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
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