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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Purohit cover story: Malegaon plot was MI anti-terror ops

Lt Col Purohit said that fundraising and arranging logistics for attack were all part of a covert Military Intel operations to fight terror.

Smita Nair & Sukanya Shettymumbai | Published: January 22, 2009 10:32:19 am

Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit,alleged to be the main conspirator in the Malegaon bomb blast case,is said to have told witnesses,including some in the Defence forces,that his fundraising,arranging logistics for the attack and drafting a constitution for the extremist outfit “Abhinav Bharat” were all part of a covert Military Intelligence (MI) operation to fight terrorism.

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chargesheet in the case filed yesterday alleges that Purohit gave an impression to witnesses that he was “conducting some covert MI operation and penetrating into some Right-wing organisation”. Purohit,who was arrested on November 5,for his alleged involvement in the bombings,served in MI from 2005 to early 2008 and was posted in Nashik and Pachmarhi in Madhya Pradesh.

In one instance,the chargesheet alleges that an unnamed witness,who is a serving officer from the Army Education Corps in Pachmarhi,has told the ATS that he was introduced to Purohit at an official dinner at the officers mess of AEC Training College in December 2007 by a senior colleague. The witness told Purohit that he wanted to set up an old-age home and school after retirement and Purohit offered to help him through his contacts and invited him to Delhi.

The witness allegedly took up the invitation and went to Delhi from where he was taken to Faridabad where the first meeting of Abhinav Bharat was underway. “Lt. Col. was talking about overground forum and also underground forum must be created. Later on,when I asked Lt. Col. Purohit about that he told that it was part of some covert MI operations and I need not know more than that,” the chargesheet quotes the unnamed AEC officer as saying. The ATS alleges that this was the meeting where Purohit took responsibility of providing explosives for the blast.

Purohit,the chargesheet alleges,called the AEC officer to a meeting in Kolkata in February 2008 saying he wanted to discuss the school project. There,the officer was introduced to Swami Asimanand from Gujarat,Abhinav Bharat founder Himani Savarkar and a man named Tapan Ghosh. The witness,according to the chargesheet,recalled that Ghosh and Purohit discussed the plight of Hindus in Bangladesh.

They also allegedly discussed training youth and when Ghosh asked about arms training,Purohit said that he would consider it and organise it after asking his superiors. When the witness claimed that he confronted Purohit when he returned to Panchmarhi,Purohit allegedly explained that it was a “covert operation under the direction of superiors to fight terrorism”.

Meanwhile,although the ATS has not booked Himani Savarkar,president of Abhinav Bharat and the Hindu Mahasabha,a statement by Savarkar that’s part of the chargesheet alleges that she had attended one of the organisation’s meetings in Bhopal in April last year. However,she walked out as she did not favour violence,she is believed to have said.

Savarkar,daughter-in-law of revolutionary freedom fighter Veer Savarkar,has told the ATS that the conspiracy of the Malegaon blast was hatched during a meeting on April 10-11 last year. Savarkar claims that Sadhvi Pragyasingh Thakur,Prasad Purohit,Sameer Kulkarni and others arrested for the blast,were present at the meeting.

In her statement,Savarkar says the location of Malegaon was decided during the meeting. Calling Purohit the main planner,Savarkar says that the Sadhvi was confident of recruiting “her men” for the job. However,Savarkar also claims that she had walked out as she did not agree with the violent path chosen by the group. Her statement also says that she did not know what was decided after she left. Asked why Savarkar is not wanted in the case since she allegedly knew about the conspiracy,acting ATS chief K P Raghuvanshi said: “She has not been made an accused primarily because she has not attended several subsequent meetings.”

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