What Happened With Lt Col Purohit And Pragya Is Most Unfortunate!

Coming straight to the crux of the matter, let me initiate my humble piece by first and foremost pointing out that in a huge relief for Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and others in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, the Supreme Court on April 13, 2016 said categorically that there was no evidence to charge them under Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act (MCOCA) at this stage and their bail could hence be examined on merit by a trial court. We all saw how after rotting for nearly nine years on jail could Lt Col Purohit get bail after legal giant who is none other than Harish Salve. himself most meticulously, brilliantly and most convincingly argued for his bail in the top court! It is most unfortunate that the order to consider their bail expeditiously came close to eight years after the military intelligence officer and others were arrested and jailed in connection with the blast case. This cannot be justified under any circumstances!           For nearly eight years a serving army officer of the armed forces and that too of the intelligence wing was made to suffer all sorts of humiliation along with jail and yet not even chargesheet has been filed against him leave alone trial being started! Same is the case with Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur. Is this the way a nation treats its officers?                                                    If there was an open and shut case against him as those who arrested him projected then why after eight years they have not been able to even file a  chargesheet and why they have not produced any evidence before the court? How can any person leave alone army officer be made to wear the tag of a terrorist without giving him any opportunity to defend himself in last eight years? Why was the police worshipping in temple the evidence it has to prove that Lt Colonel Purohit is a terrorist? Why only media hype against Lt Col Purohit for. 8 to 9 years that he was planning to make India a Hindu state without any evidence whatsoever?                                     How long will police keep the nation waiting? Who will be responsible if it is found that there is no evidence against Purohit and others? Why a UN report which mentioned that a Pakistan based terror group was responsible for the terror attack yet Purohit who as intelligence officer was providing information on terrorist was himself implicated instead? Why no evidence has been produced against him?                                               Why a bench of Supreme Court comprising of Justices FMI Kalifulla and Abhay Manohar Sapre said that, “There was no concrete evidence to show their involvement in any other criminal case and the trial court should decide their bail plea on merit, preferably within one month”? Was it just for fun that two Judges and that too serving judges of our highest court – Supreme Court are saying that there was no concrete evidence to show their involvement in any other criminal case? Why Supreme Court said there was considerable doubt about the involvement of those charged under the MCOCA? Again was it just for fun? What nonsense!                                                      Why trial court didn’t decide their bail plea nearly eight years back and why Lt Col Purohit was made to suffer along with Sadhvi Pragya Thakur in jail where their health deteriorated thus grossly violating their legal rights? Why Lt Col Purohit’s wife had to say with moist eyes that, “Nothing has changed. I am tired?” What was the compelling circumstance that police decided to keep a serving army officer of the rank of Lt Colonel in jail for nearly eight years without producing any evidence against him in nay court? This itself proves that there is more to it than meets the eye and his arrest along with others was done as part of a grand political conspiracy to keep the ruling elite happy and to be on their right side!     We have just seen the murky racket of police officers extorting crores of rupees from rich to pay hundreds of crores to politicians in this very State named Maharashtra  due to which senior police officials were either dismissed from service as we saw in case of Assistant Police Inspectors Sachin Waze, Riyazuddin Kazi and Sunil Mane! The NIA claimed that  Sunil Mane was part of the conspiracy to kill Thane-based business man Hiran   who purportedly owned the explosive-laden vehicle which was found parked near Ambani’s house ‘Antilia’ in South Mumbai on February 25. By the way, Hiren’s body was found in a creek in Thane on March 5, 2021. Very serious allegations were levelled against Maharashtra State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Vir Singh!                                      Why for nearly eight years Lt Colonel Purohit was not shown even the army documents which he had a right to see? Why it is that only now after the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has himself personally intervened to make it clear that the main accused in the Malegaon and Samjhauta blasts, Lt Col Prasad Purohit, would be given access to documents he had sought to enable him to prove his innocence? Why was he denied even his basic legal right for such a long time? Who were those army officers who didn’t want that he should be shown any documents and why? They must explain!                                                    Why such a senior army officer of the rank of Major General and having an impeccable reputation whom we keep listening in most of the news channels speaking always about defence and our national interests – GD Bakshi keeps crying foul on the manner in which Lt Colonel Purohit was falsely implicated and he was made a fall guy while the real culprits were allowed to run away? Why RSN Singh a retired officer of RAW whom again we keep listening in various news channels talking always about our national interests writes in his cover story titled “Col Purohit : A Victim Of Hindu Terror Industry” published in Uday India magazine dated March 22, 2014 that, “Look at the distance the anti-national discourse of Indian politics has travelled. A film actor serving sentence for aiding and abetting terrorism is the beneficiary of parole with vulgar regularity and brazenness and Col Purohit, a patriotic soldier continues to languish in prison. His cardinal sin being his infiltration into the network of Indian Mujahideen and its patron LeT. More than two dozen concerned officers have vouched in Court-of-Inquiry that in pursuit of his duty, by no standards ordinary, he had kept the organization in loop. Purohit, in keeping with the imperatives of country’s security, shared intelligence with sister agencies including the Maharashtra ATS, which invited him on several occasions to deliver lectures. By now it is clearly established by some prime plotters and participants of 26/11 like Ajmal Kasab, David Headley and Abu Jundal, that a painstaking diligence was invested by the planners to portray the attack as handiwork of ‘Hindu terror’ organisations. If Ajmal Kasab had not been caught alive the plot had nearly succeeded. It was a sort of divine intervention that Kasab developed cold-feet and failed to destroy himself as per the instruction of his handlers and jihadi indoctrination. The network of plotters included some politicians and journalists in India. Readers may find out who wrote a book, (to apologise later) about 26/11 being a handiwork of Hindu groups and which politician was the chief guest during the release of the book!Fabrication of ‘Hindu Terror’Few days before 26/11, I was solicited by the Tehelka magazine to write a column on my views on the arrest of Col Purohit. My initial response, knowing the unabashed pro-establishment proclivities of the magazine, was that my views would be repugnant. Only when, I was assured of my intellectual freedom, I relented. I must say, my views were not only respected, it was carried as the very first item on Nov 22, 2008 issue. Without the benefit of hindsight I then wrote:“It is a travesty to paint Purohit as the Indian Osama Bin Laden. Going by the selective and flip-flop leaks by the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) of Maharashtra, and the manner in which the media is lapping it up, it appears that there is a concerted bid to make an ‘Osama bin Laden’ out of Lt Col Purohit, and prove that Sadhvi Pragya and her accomplices are the new ‘Hindu jihadis’. The credulity of the general public is being stretched on various scores. Firstly, the speed at which fresh revelations are being disseminated by the ATS, is in complete disregard to professional propriety. Secondly, the unprecedented number of narco tests the accused are being subjected to. Thirdly, there is a total blankout with regard to the version of the accused. Fourthly, with every passing day, the network is being enlarged; as if to suggest that the entire country is being consumed by ‘Hindu terrorism’, and has pan-Indian dimension. Fifthly, if intercepts of some of the accused were available prior to the blasts, why were no pre-emptive measures taken? Sixthly, no army representative has been included in the interrogation team. Seventhly, the most intriguing aspect is the timing of the investigations—on the eve of elections.“The ATS revelations are extremely complex in nature due to the alleged involvement of an army officer belonging to military intelligence. The media, therefore, needs to be cautious about the manner in which it reports the briefs by the ATS. The Colonel is a legitimate intelligence operative. Interaction with the police authorities, other intelligence agencies, desirable and undesirable elements, was very much a part of his duty. No intelligence agency issues written orders in pursuance of intelligence operations. The entire system is based on trust and faith. It is yet to be established how much disconnect there is between the legitimate and illegitimate activities of the officer during the course of his duty. The level and extent of interaction and cooperation that the officer had with other intelligence agencies is not known. There can be no greater travesty than the suggestion by certain quarters that the involvement of Lt Col Purohit is symptomatic of a deeper malaise in the Indian army.“An officer of military intelligence is not in direct command of troops. He has only a small complement of personnel working under him. A military intelligence officer is hardly competent in providing training on improvised explosive devices. Importantly, the nation must trust in the legal procedures of the army which is far more stringent. The army will brook no ideology which impacts on its established secular character and credentials. As and when Lt Col Purohit is handed back to army custody, it is inevitable that he will be meted out the appropriate punishment, if found guilty. The media must be patient, and, spare the army.”In flagrant violation of all imperatives, norms and practice Col Purohit was not handed back to the army nor the Indian army was meaningfully incorporated in the interrogation and investigation. The country could trust the Indian army with 92,000 Pak prisoners in the wake of 71 War, but could not be depended for fairness and justice with one of its own intelligence officer. It is now beyond doubt that the decision of his civil custody was deliberate and conspiratorial. It nails the persisting doubts regarding involvement of facilitators within the Indian dispensation in staging 26/11.Anticipating that Col Purohit will eventually be handed over to the Army I wrote in the Indian Defence Review in 2008:“The level and extent of intelligence interaction and cooperation with other intelligence agencies that this officer had, is also not known. That is why, it was very important to have a representative of the military intelligence, when the interrogation of the officer began. To that extent, a state police organisation is not only under-equipped but also out of sync with central intelligence agencies in dealing with an official of military intelligence.”The stories being fed to the media by the government was not only incredulous but outrageous to any professional intelligence personnel. Those feeding the information particularly to a particular newspaper were police discards who had gravitated to this altered ATS, solely for the purpose of politicising terror at the behest of their political masters. Subsequently, post 26/11 another investigative organisation was created to perpetuate politicisation of terror at national scale. The low intensity blasts in Malegaon in September 2008 was the trigger for creation of the desperate theme of Hindu terror, following which the respective ATSs of states ruled by one particular party went on an overdrive. The newspaper as mentioned, in its blind fidelity, reproduced stories of Hindu terror dished out by the govt, having hilarious contradictions in frequency of two consecutive days. The plot was slowly unraveling and so was the desperation of the spin-doctors. I therefore expressed my suspicion thus in Indian Defence Review in 2008:“The investigation following the ‘Malegaon blasts’, is extremely complex in nature due to the alleged involvement of an army officer belonging to the military intelligence. The media, therefore, needs to be extremely cautious and circumspect about the manner in which it reports the briefs by the ATS. I have deep apprehension that the complete truth, as and when it unfolds in the future, could have several unsavoury and damaging twist.”Unsavoury and Damaging DeductionsIt has indeed proven to be unsavoury and damaging. Now, with the benefit of hindsight analysis and driven by growing crops of facts and evidence, some of the ineluctable deductions are:■             26/11 was orchestrated by Pakistan and other external powers in concert with vested interests in India. The objectives of external interests was geopolitical and of internal players— the need to balance the spate of jihadi terror by fabricating so-called ‘Hindu terror’. Towards this, there were plans in place in all three phases of 26/11, i.e. preparatory phase, conduct phase, and post-conduct phase. In the preparatory phase, the jihadis were taught about Hindu ways and were also taught Hindi language. Their instructor was none other than Abu Jundal, who has confessed as much to the Indian authorities. The jihadis were made to wear sacred threads on their wrists to establish their identities as ‘Hindus’ after their ‘shahadat’ (martyrdom). In the conduct phase, it appears that the chief of the ATS Mr Hemant Karkare was eliminated as he knew ‘too much’ and in the post-conduct phase or consolidation phase, the plans to publish books labeling 26/11 as an act of ‘Hindu terror’ was pursued, despite the unexpected apprehension of Ajmal Kasab, which had put paid the conspiracy.■             The low intensity blast in Malegaon were probably orchestrated in September 2008 (Malegaon-II), just two months before 26/11 to create the bogey of ‘Hindu terror’ so that the attack could be sold as an act of ‘Hindu terror’ with some degree of credulity.■             Later, Malegaon-II was used as the trigger and kernel to weave the story of so-called ‘Hindu terror’. High publicity suspects were carefully chosen, created and implicated. It included an army officer (Col Purohit) and a saffron clad woman Hindu activist (Sadhvi Pragya). Great combination for publicity and to neutralise Pak-sponsored jihadi terror!■             Once Malegaon-II to facilitate 26/11 was effected, to dispel obvious doubts the spin-doctors began to work backwards in order to prove that all terrorist attacks in which Muslims were victims, were the handiwork of the so-called ‘Hindu terror’ groups. In this bid, they got badly stuck on two counts, i.e. Malegaon-I (2006) and Samjhauta Express blast (2007). In Malegaon-I, the casualties were very high, some 37 people were killed and usage of RDX was in evidence. In establishing the attack as ‘Hindu terror’, the spin-doctors are in quandary about pin-pointing the source of RDX. Initially, through the medium of its captive newspaper, it was disseminated that it was sourced from the army. However the very next day, it was clarified that the Indian army does not use RDX. As far as Samjhauta Express blasts are concerned, the Moroccan wife of David Headley, Faiza Outalha, had told the US Embassy in Pakistan that her husband was the mastermind. The US State Treasury Department till today maintains that the main financer of the blasts was a Karachi-based businessman, and LeT operative, Muhammad Arif Qasmani.■             It also appears that Col Purohit was castigated and then taken into custody to facilitate 26/11, as he had infiltrated deep into LeT network. His arrest was also used a measure to scare conscientious operatives of other intelligence agencies.■             Similarly, the self-inflicted vicissitudes of the Aseemanand case are ludicrous. Sometimes he undergoes a ‘change of heart’ and is on a song, only to retract later, sometimes a ghost journalist interviews him in the dark room of the jail, which he subsequently denies.■             The scripting of the untruths has been so unprofessional and so politically motivated that the establishment is finding it nearly impossible to prepare credible and sustainable charge-sheets against these so-called ‘Hindu terrorists’.”ConclusionIndia’s most respected and incisive intelligence and geopolitical analyst, Mr B Raman, a former senior official of R&AW, was at pains to underscore that there is no phenomenon such as ‘Hindu terrorism’. He was castigated by his detractors. He was called names. His detractors insinuated that he was looking for sinecures by the future dispensation. A hurt and distraught Mr Raman had to finally reveal that he, suffering from terminal stages of cancer, and was only looking for sinecures away from this earth. Mr Raman left for the heavenly abode on June 16, 2013.                                                 After series of jihadi attacks across the nation in the preceding five years, the decision to script the so-called ‘Hindu terror’ by the ‘Hindu terror industry’ was in keeping with the imperatives of vote-bank politics in run up to the elections in 2009. Untruths are now recoiling on the establishment. In the past five years, nothing has been established against the so-called ‘Hindu terrorists’, like Col Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya. They deserve to be restored and rehabilitated with dignity with which a saint and soldier deserves. If a nervous establishment decides to see last of them before it relinquishes power, then it is another matter. What  a senior former intelligence officer of RAW – Col RSN Singh has written cannot be brushed aside very lightly!                                                  Lt Col Purohit claimed that he had been framed in the Samjhauta blasts while he had successfully infiltrated various terror groups such as the Indian Mujahideen and the SIMI. He said with tears in his eyes that, “I have been robbed of honour, dignity and rank and punished for serving the nation”. What a tragedy that Indian politicians go out of the way to invite Pakistani invaders like Gen Pervez Musharraf who masterminded Kargil war in which we lost officially more than 600 soldiers and treat him like a royal emperor but care two hoots for Indian officers like Lt Col Purohit who at the risk of their own lives penetrate inside enemy camp only to be themselves labelled a terrorist, Captain Saurav Kalia and 5 soldiers of 4 Jat Regiment who were the first to inform about Pakistan troops infiltration and who on being captured alive were brutally tortured for not 5 or 10 days but nearly a month before maiming them, not sparing even their private parts but our politicians forgot everything within two-three months and started dining in Gen Musharraf – mastermind of Kargil and who labels terror leaders of dreaded terror organizations like Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba like Syed Salaluddin and Hafiz Saeed as “Yeh to hamare hero hai ji hero. Bharat ke liye to aatankwadi hain paar hamare liye to yeh aasli hero hain ji aasli hero”. Captain Saurav Kalia was brutally tortured by Pakistani soldiers and terrorists but Lt Col Purohit is even more unlucky as he was tortured most brutally not for just one month but for nearly 8 years to force him to give a confession not by any Pakistani army or terrorist or ISI but by Indian police, Indian intelligence and all donning uniform of India which is his own nation and not Pakistan! Disgusting!                                         Anyway coming back to the main subject, incidentally, NIA Director General Sharad Kumar clarified that Lt Col Purohit was never an accused in the Samjhauta blasts case. However, he had been charge-sheeted by the Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad in the Malegaon blast case, and the NIA was investigating the matter.                                             I have always been deadly against terrorists ever since my best friend Sageer Khan told me way back in 1994 that terrorists are a threat to our entire nation unlike other ordinary criminals who are a threat to just one or few individuals and can never ever in my life be on their side but after going through Lt Col Purohit’s case, I am hundred percent convinced that he is not a terrorist rather is “a victim of most dangerous political conspiracy hatched up in cahoots with some senior police officers and some in the army”. If there was even an iota of proof against him that proof would not have been taken to any temple for nearly eight years but produced before the court! Just because a person sets up an organization or even has hardline views is no ground to send him to jail and keep him languishing there for nearly 8 years without even showing him the chargesheet and without producing him even before the lowest court!                                         You can dismiss what I say lightly but certainly not what Supreme Court says or a senior army officer of the stature of Gen GD Bakshi or a former RAW officer Col RSN Singh says and whom we always love to hear in various news channels because they always speak keeping in mind our national interests first and not any regional or religion interest first! Even the seniors of Lt Col Purohit confirm him as “over zealous officer” and profusely praised him but in his bad days he was left in the lurch to suffer all alone by himself with no one standing near him to defend! If this is the way in which an intelligence officer is treated for doing his duty who will like to take risk only to be himself labelled a terrorist?                                                  Justice must not only be done in Purohit’s case but also seen to be done! By not filing even a chargesheet in last nearly 8 years several questions have been thrown up and all those who are responsible for this needs to be taken to task! NHRC must itself also investigate the matter and all those who tortured Lt Col Purohit or Sadhvi Pragya must themselves be sent behind bars and taken to task for their misdeeds and misdemeanours! The hush hush manner in which Lt Col Purohit was arrested and the total opaque manner in which he was treated for days after his arrest raises most serious question marks on those who arrested him!  What Lt Col Purohit’s family is bearing and what he himself or Sadhvi Pragya is bearing that only they themselves can understand best yet he always present a brave face which is truly commendable! Punish them with the strictest punishment if they are terrorists but facts on ground indicate otherwise! Kashmiri separatists leaders openly rant against India, chant anti-India slogans, are known for their proximity to terror leaders yet are not arrested but a serving army officer of intelligence like Lt Col Purohit is arrested and kept in jail without even filing a chargesheet for nearly 8 years! Disgusting! Most disgusting! Our courts as well as our governments must feel terribly ashamed for this unpalatable fiasco! Keeping a serving Army Officer in jail for nearly nine years without even chargesheet being filed against him is the biggest insult of our Indian Army and President being the supreme commander of Armed Forces should have spoken out vocally in his support and even now he can speak out for it is better to be late than never!  Sanjeev Sirohi,

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