Torture is a sober word to describe what I faced: Lt Col Purohit

Torture is a sober word to describe what I faced: Lt Col Purohit

By Ashish Singh | New Delhi | 27 August, 2017
Lt Col Purohit, Supreme Court, Malegaon blast case, Colonel Shrivastava, bail, Dawood report, Army
‘If you have done something then you confess... I have done nothing. So what am I supposed to confess?’
Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, who is in the news for getting bail from the Supreme Court in the Malegaon blast case, talked to the NewsX-The Sunday Guardian.

Q: I have read about your things from the documents. You have been refusing to speak to me. I just want to understand from the horse’s mouth the entire story, how you were picked up. Having gone through all the documents of the Army and court, it appears that there is much more than meets the eye.

A: It does.

Q: Could you please tell me? I have been trying to speak to you. You have always been refusing to speak.

A: I will speak nothing.

Q: Sir, just for my understanding please. I want to understand this entire case. How were you picked up and how were you tortured? This is one of the main things.

A: It’s there in the newspapers. Everything is there in paper.

Q: I just want to understand directly from you how you have been picked up. This is one of the main issues in the case.

A: See, you must understand one thing that in Army you cannot move on your own to any place. You have to go on movement order. When I was told to go to Delhi I moved with the understanding that I am going to Delhi. But I was made to undertake journey to Mumbai by Colonel Shrivastava. I never had that movement order with me. It apparently came up in the Court of Inquiry. He had picked up my movement order without knowing me, he had told the officer not to hand over my movement order to me. My own movement order and so he was carrying it. My movement order, I did not know. He had told the officer not to disclose to me the change of destination. Col Purohit should never know where he is going. That’s how it is and then I was taken to Mumbai. Bundled up in a vehicle, taken to b****y Khandala and from 29 to 3 November I faced the nightmare.

Q: How were you tortured?

A: Torture? I think torture is a sober word.

Q: What did they do?

A: What they did not! Pulling my hair, keeping me naked, semi nude, what would you say, handcuffed tight, blindfolded, and abuses hurled to my wife, my sister and my mother. I was threatened that they will parade them in front of me and will put them behind bars; and that my sons will go to orphanage. Tied by my wrist on the horizontal bar, suspended, pulled down, and legs stretched. You name a thing. Don’t remind me of this.

Q: They made you confess for the Malegaon blast? They tried to force you to confess, but you did not...

A: If you have done something then you confess... I have done nothing. So what am I supposed to confess?

Q: What did they ask you to confess?

A: That I am involved in that stupid case.

Q: In which a lot of other people have already got bail...

A: I am not talking about anything which is in sub-judice. It is a sub-judice matter.

Q: I have gone through your documents and the Court of Inquiry. It appears that a lot of it is political in nature and your lawyers have been suggesting that you are behind bars just because of political reasons.

A: You still have doubts about it?

Q: What did they do? I have seen your Dawood report.

A: On one hand you say you have everything thing and other hand you are asking me. I think you are drawing me into...

Q: Sir, I just want to understand these reports. Right from Dawood to fake currency and to a terrorist in Kashmir travelling in a politician’s car.

A: Yes, it is all there in black and white, I have reported all these matters in the report.

Q: What all did you report, Sir? Could you please...?

A: As you said these things. Kashmiri terrorist travelling in a politician’s red beacon car, Dawood and his connection with Naxalites at the behest of ISI, and how he was conducting the coordination part of it. Nexus of the fraternity you just talked about. I don’t even want to name them. I am a serving officer. I don’t want to talk about politicians as a serving officer. But then it is that way. The fake currency racket and the involvement of people who call themselves politicians. I don’t find my performance or performing my duties wrong if I see something going wrong in this country. I am serving the flag, I am serving the President. I recognise the political party, let me tell you. I should not have opinion about politician and politics, neither should have any inclination or soft corner for them. In my life, I have never voted. Let me tell you, I am never going to vote in my life. That is the level I keep myself at.

Q: It seems the system has let you down. And the Army.

A: No, don’t say anything about Army. I have faith in them. They have stood by me. Don’t say anything about Army.

Q: You are still a serving officer.

A: I am and I would remain.

Q: But they did let you down at one point.

A: Don’t even say that. Wrong people go high up at wrong times, but days are never the same. Organisation is strong. It’s a fantastic organisation and I serve it with a lot of pride and honour.

Q: You have written a lot of letters. It seems you are fighting for the pride and uniform.

A: What else an officer has other than his pride and honour to defend, tell me? You feel do we work for money in the Army? You are sadly mistaken. It is that few grams of brass that matter to us. It’s that coloured ribbon what matters to us. It matters nothing for civilians and you would never understand these kinds of things. I am talking to you and I am getting goose-bumps. Let me tell you, it (Army) is my place. I belong there and I belong to my olive green uniform.

Q: You still want to serve the Army...?

A: Why do you ask me this? You want me to break down? Don’t say this; I am a man from the trenches. I have faced bullets. I belong to the martial clan. My pride, my flag, and my family flag I never let it down. That’s my Army. You have gone through my Court of Inquiry. You must have seen that not a single officer has spoken against me.

In fact, it was my open challenge in the court. That I will surrender my right to examine anyone in my defence. I said call anyone—from sipahi to hawaldar to a general with whom I have served even for a single day. If anyone says that Col Purohit does not have officer like qualities, does not have officer’s character, I said I’ll put down my badges of ranks in front of you. I have no right to serve under you if anyone, whether in my command or who commands me, says that he is not worthy of uniform.

Q: Yes, all 59 officers have given the statement in your favour.

A: I say it even today. Let them say that I’m not worthy (to be) an officer, I should cease to exist.

Q: The Army is completely backing you, a Court of Inquiry has given you a clean chit. Officers have given statements in your favour... Then is it just a political game? You have irritated a lot of politicians.

A: It is for you to answer. For me, my job is over, my fight is over. I was fighting for my papers from the Army, which they have given me. I have proved through these papers to everyone, whether someone wants to look into it or doesn’t. It doesn’t matter to me.

Q: Sir, I have read a report in which you have reported that Dawood was present in Mumbai, his connections and about his movement...

A: Yes, That’s what I am saying. I was doing my job.

Q: What was it, Sir? What did they suggest? One particular thing, I want to ask. Who did you report to? What was that report? Do you remember, can you tell us exactly? Like when and where.

A: Everything is there. Why do people ask me that I don’t understand.

Q: Sir there is just one thing that I want to ask.

A: It was 2005, if I remember correctly, in the month of June, 5 or 6 June. And then it has come in papers, in 2011 then everyone accepted that he was there (Mumbai). And he was acting pivot between ISI and Naxalites.

Q: Colonel, are you telling me he (Dawood) was present in India (in 2005)?

A: It is there in papers.

Q: But did the authorities act after that? Anyone took your report seriously? Were you called?

A: I can only say that when my reports reached at an appropriate level they were verified and based on that I was called by (the) ATS superintendent along with senior officers. And the senior officers said that in the Court of Inquiry. When the reports were verified, probably they were found to be correct. That’s why we were invited.

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