In a shocking revelation in the Lt Col Purohit case, the Army has admitted that they had not handed over Purohit to the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) for interrogation in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case as the Mumbai based investigation agency had not given them the required Malegaon FIR.
In a response submitted to the NIA court on Thursday, 9 June, the Army has stated that “…In the interest of justice and fair play, it is submitted that the applicant was handed over to ATS Mumbai based on FIR lodged in Pune under Sections 465, 467, 368, 471, 474 and 420 of IPC and the other Penal sections mentioned in (by) Mr Hemant Karkare, Additional Commissioner of Police, ATS Mumbai dated 4 November 2008 are not mentioned in the FIR.”
In a letter by Additional Commissioner, ATS Mumbai, Hemant Karkare, accessed exclusively by this reporter, Karkare had written to the Army on 4 November 2008, requesting the arrest of Purohit in connection to two separate FIRs. One was regarding the Malegaon blasts and the other one was a criminal case registered on the charges of procuring arms licence for private persons on the basis of forged documents. The second FIR was registered on 4 November 2008, the very same day Purohit was formally arrested. The Sections for which Purohit was charged in the Malegaon FIR were 307, 302, 326, 324, 427, 153A, 120B, IPC r/w 3,4,5 Explosive Substance Act, r/w Sections 16, 18, 23 of U.A. (P) Act. But it is obvious that these sections were missing from the document provided to the Army by the ATS.
Based on the facts, the ATS seems to have suppressed the Malegaon FIR, although giving the false impression to the media that Lt Col Purohit was handed over by the Army to the ATS for interrogation in the Malegaon blasts. In a travesty of justice, Purohit was arrested for forgery of documents, but tried for terror, which also led to a frenzied media trial with “Hindu terror” at its focus.
According to three movement orders issued by the Army for Purohit from 27 to 29 October 2008, exclusively accessed by this correspondent, he was being hastily moved from AEC Training College in Panchmarhi to Bhopal, and then to 3 DET SCLU, Mumbai. At this point Purohit questioned about his hasty relocations. As per the allegations made by Purohit dated 2 May 2016 to the NIA Court, Col R.K. Srivastava (who had been issued a movement order by the Army on 23 October 2008 to go AEC Training College on temporary duty) made a hand written amendment on the official Army movement order, changing the destination to Pro unit, MG & G Area, Mumbai. He was, however, finally taken to Mumbai airport.
The Army, in its response to the NIA court, has further admitted that it had no information about the whereabouts of Purohit from 29 October 2008 to 4 November 2008, when he was formally arrested, giving rise to speculation that illegal detention was involved. Purohit alleges that he was taken to an undisclosed location in Khandala from Mumbai airport in a Tata Sumo vehicle along with ATS officers at around 10.30 pm of 29 October 2008, where he was physically and mentally tortured for his refusal to confess his involvement in the Malegaon case.
The Army stated in its response: “It is further submitted that whereabouts of the applicant (Purohit) from 29 October 2008 to 4 November 2008 are not discernable from the available records with the respondent (MoD).” This gives credence to Purohit’s allegation that the Army and ATS were hand in gloves in illegally detaining him and trying to extract confession from him.
According to a confidential correspondence dated 3 November 2008, issued by Major Gen Nilendra Kumar, JAG, accessed exclusively by this correspondent, Kumar expressed the reservation that Purohit cannot be handed over to the ATS without an FIR having been filed by the police, indicating any apparent involvement of Purohit.
“It would be advisable that for the case for handing over the officer to the police custody should only be considered after an FIR having been filed (by) the competent police officers approach the Army authorities. the rationale for this is that only when an involvement of the officer becomes apparent that he should be handed over to the police custody,” the correspondence mentions.
Within 24 hours after the issue of this correspondence, the ATS swung into action, registering an FIR on 4 November 20008 against Purohit in connection to a criminal case on the charges of procuring arms license for private persons on the basis of forged documents in Pune. The FIR was based on the statement given by a complainant named Milind Date.
On the same day, Hemant Karkare wrote to the Army requesting Purohit’s arrest. Purohit is suddenly brought to the scene on 4 November 2008, five days after his last movement had been recorded by the Army on 29 October 2008 as per the records.