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What military intelligence found about Lt Col Purohit's 'innocence'

Catch Team | Updated on: 31 August 2017, 21:32 IST
(Photo: Catch News)

The bail granted to Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Purohit – an alleged rogue military intelligence official facing grave charges of terror – have led some to suspect if he was framed, and that he was merely doing his job of a 'spook-out' to gather information on sensitive organisations. Abhinav Bharat was allegedly one such radical outfit.

His lawyer Harish Salve argued as much during the hearing in the Supreme Court. “The ATS in its chargesheet said I attended meetings of Abhinav Bharat. Yes, I attended certain meetings, but as a military mole. I have been doing my duty',” he said on his client's behalf.

However, recent reports by The Indian Express, citing a probe by military intelligence, paint a very different picture.

Key points of DGMI report

Here are some of the key points that come out of the report by Director General of Military Intelligence about the activities of its own operative:

* That Purohit informed his superiors about Sadhvi Pragya and her alleged involvement in the Malegaon blast only after he got wind of the ATS cracking the case.

“In addition, on 13 Oct 08, on receiving confirmation from his informers about apprehension of Sadhvi by ATS, he telephonically informed CO SCLU, IO SCLU (Devlali) and initiated a written report to CCLU Team at Jabalpur intimating involvement of Sadhvi Pragya Singh in the Malegaon Bomb Blast,” a newspaper piece quoting the DGMI report said.

“Between 07 Oct and 24 Oct 08, he used these mobile nos to warn his associates through direct calls and SMS. His close associates were told to switch off mobile no. and take new sim,” the report further said on how Purohit may have tried to cover his tracks once he got to know of the plot.

* That he was a just trying to infiltrate the outfits may be just one part of the story.

The DGMI report says he is “heavily indoctrinated” and cites his wife's testimony, who according to the report, “revealed that her husband has deep hatred for Islam and he may be involved in activities directed against them”.

* Purohit was deeply invested in the activities of the Abhinav Bharat and was trying to liaison with other organisations including the RSS, the VHP, the Ram Sene among others. Most of these meetings were illegal.

The DGMI report mentions one such meeting in December 2007 in Pune, which was reportedly called by Swami Aseemanand, another key accused in most Hindutva terror cases, to merge Abhinav Bharat with other radical outfits.

“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 newspaper report quoted the DGMI as saying.

* That he was active in organising the first meeting of the Abhinav Bharat in Bhopal in April 2008, which saw the presence of Aseemanand, Shankaracharya alias Amritanand Dev Tirth, Sadhvi Pragya, Ramji Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange, all of whom are accused in terror cases. And not just organising events, he was engaged in fundraising from influential gurus.

The report cites one such instance in June 2008, months before the Malegaon blast in September, where he travelled to Bengaluru with Major Ramesh Upadhyaya, another accused in the terror plot, and visited Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living, but received only “airfare”. It is not known on what grounds the AOL sponsored the air tickets.

* Money collected from various sources including those connected with the RSS was used for buying vehicles, weapons and explosive. The report mentioned one “wealthy RSS supporter” Shyam Apte who was present in Indore to meet Purohit and Shankaracharya and the Rs 5 lakh received from him was used for buying a vehicle and a grenade.

Gun-running and selling weapons

The DGMI probe began after the blasts found Purohit involved in gun-running, including selling weapons illegally. “On 09 May 05, the officer sold his own ordnance issued NSP 7.62 mm pistol to… an arms and ammunition dealer in Pune. Sale of Ord issued 7.62 weapon is illegal. On the same day, he acquired .32 mm NP bore revolver from Machine Test Prototype Factory, Ambernath. Both the entries are endorsed in the weapon licence. During this transaction, the officer gained confidence and monetary benefits.”

The report cited instances of as many as five such transactions and illegal meetings, with even foreigners involved in arms trade.

One such deal for weapons may have been part of a plot to assassinate an RSS leader who Purohit suspected to be an ISI mole. The report said a person named Aloke was given a 9mm pistol to kill the RSS leader. Speculation is rife that this RSS leader is Indresh Kumar, since, at another place, the report stated how in the same period Purohit had travelled and meet “RSS chief Sri Sudershanji (former RSS chief KS Sudarshan) at Jabalpur and apprised him on (RSS leader) Indreshji's linkages with ISI”.

Bomb assembly

The report is scathing. Beside fund raising, Purohit may have been present even during when the bomb was being assembled in Ujjaon and Indore between 29 August 2008 and 27 September 2008. “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, quoting the DGMI inquiry.

First published: 31 August 2017, 21:32 IST