With Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar directing the Army to provide Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit, in prison for the past eight years for his alleged involvement in the September 2008 Malegaon blasts, with all the documents he has sought to prove his innocence in court, Purohit’s family members are hopeful that they will now be able to prove his innocence and show that Purohit had always kept his seniors in the loop about his work.
“The recent statement given by the Raksha Mantri has come as a big relief for us as now we can prove his innocence in the court of inquiry. It will help us in showing to the court what all he has reported to his seniors and the fact that he did all his work while keeping his seniors informed,” Purohit’s wife Aparna told The Sunday Guardian.
Purohit’s family members, however, also admitted that there was a sense of disappointment with the way the Ministry of Defence has acted so far in his case. “They did not support him till now. It is only now, after eight years, that they are providing us with the papers, something they could have done long ago,” a close family member of Purohit said. According to Aparna, she along with Purohit had been regularly writing to Parrikar, as well as to A.K. Antony, Defence Minister during UPA-II, seeking the documents, but the response came only now. “Both of us have written to them multiple times, but never got any response. Now, we have learnt that the Raksha Mantri has asked officials to give us the documents,” she said.
Aparna said that the biggest puzzle in the entire case is why Purohit was targeted by the Maharashtra ATS. “Even he is not sure why he was targeted. I feel he became a target because of petty vote bank politics. Going by the way things were moving at the time of his arrest, it was as if the ATS was interested in increasing the number of people arrested rather than who were being arrested. An Army officer being pulled into this and finally arrested added weight to the conspiracy theory and without even understanding how the Army functions, they concocted stories and made the witnesses give statements that suited their stories. The story of Purohit being connected to the Samjhauta Express blast surfaced in the same way as the ATS tortured witnesses and forced them to give statements that Purohit had told them that he used RDX in the Samjhauta case after which these stories were planted in the media. Now, with the NIA chief giving a statement saying that Purohit was not an accused, the truth has come out,” she said. Purohit, who was arrested within two months of the Malegaon blast, is still in service and has been receiving his salary. According to Aparna, who is a homoeopathic doctor in Pune, Purohit has become “mentally very tired” and just wants to be with his family. “I met him last week. He is fine, but there is impatience in him and he is tired and wants to come back to his family. He spends his time reading as he is a voracious reader. He also exercises a lot,” she said.
Aparna said they have received support from their friends in the Army who have stood with them. “A lot of money has been spent in the entire legal process and I have to regularly take financial support from my parents and my sister-in-law (Purohit’s sister). At least Rs 50,000 per month is the average expense we are incurring. One of my best friends is a leading lawyer in the Supreme Court and she has been able to get all things done in the SC. Our lawyer Shrikant Shivade has never taken a single rupee from us as his fees, and he always says that a dedicated officer like Purohit, who has worked at the borders, does not deserve this kind of treatment,” Aparna said.