Not only was Lt Col Shrikant Purohit,the Military Intelligence (MI) official who is an accused in the September 2008 Malegaon blast,not authorised to infiltrate the Right-wing organisation,Abhinav Bharat,but he also flouted rules and attended meetings of the organisation in Bhopal and New Delhi while undergoing a language course,according to an Army probe.
An Army court of inquiry,which is in the final stages of confirmation after which court-martial proceedings are likely to be ordered against the suspended officer,has determined that Purohit was an active member of Abhinav Bharat and his links with the group continued even while he was posted on a training mission in Panchmarhi and was not authorised to gather intelligence on its activities.
Sources said the Army has determined that Purohit attended meetings of the organisation in Bhopal in April 2008 while he was undergoing a language course at Panchmarhi. He did this without seeking permission or informing his superiors. According to the ATS investigation,the Malegaon blast was planned during this meeting.
It is learnt that the source report generated by Purohit after the Malegaon blast naming Sadhvi Pragya and others being citied in his defence that he kept seniors in the loop was done while he was posted in Panchmarhi under the Central Army Command and was not mandated to gather intelligence.
As reported,investigators believe the report,sent after Pragyas involvement in the blast became apparent,was a ploy to cover his tracks as he feared his name would be dragged in too. Right from the beginning it was clear that the reports he generated were a cover. He started sending the reports only in October to cover his tracks, said a senior officer who was part of the initial investigation into Purohits involvement in the case.
The Army court of inquiry is believed to have irrefutably concluded that Purohit flouted service rules by joining the Right-wing organisation. In fact,the officer was warned at least once that he should stay focussed on his charter of duties as a counter-intelligence officer and not side-step into infiltrating Right-wing organisations.
At a January 2007 meeting in Deolali,where Purohit was then posted,his senior officer,Brig R Borthakur,advised him to concentrate on his primary task after he showed keenness to investigate the 2006 Malegaon blast. The senior officer reminded Purohit that the charter of duties did not include operations that are carried out by police and state intelligence agencies.