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Malegaon blast accused appeals against army probe

February 12, 2011 20:58 IST

Indian Army officer Lt Col Prasad Purohit, arrested for his alleged involvement in Malegaon blast, has moved the principal bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal in New Delhi to quash the court of inquiry ordered by the Army against him for violation of the Army Act and Rules.
 
The case is scheduled to come up for hearing on February 18.
 
In his application, Purohit, who is currently lodged in Mumbai's Arthur Road jail, has charged the Army with denying him his right to remain present throughout the proceedings of the court of inquiry and to cross-examine the witnesses, thus contravening Rule 180 of the Army rules.
 
Purohit, who technically is still in service, has sought to invoke the Army rules and has asked for copies of the proceedings under the court of inquiry which, he says, is a right of a serving officer facing such a situation.
 
Simultaneously, Purohit, who had founded Abhinav Bharat, a right-wing organisation which, his friends and family claim, was committed to arouse "nationalistic feeling" among the youth and was never aimed at becoming a terrorist outfit as dubbed by many in the media, has also moved a 'statutory' complaint to the Army charging a senior serving Military Intelligence officer with cheating him, assaulting him and betraying a "brother' officer.
 
In a detailed, nine-page complaint, Lt Col Purohit has accused Col RK Shrivastva, who was then posted at the army HQ as director MI-9 (counter intelligence), of deliberately "misguiding, detaining, torturing and mistreating" him.
 
Purohit has charged the officer with physically torturing him, along with officers of Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, for eight days between October 29 and November 5, 2008, even before he was formally arrested.
 
Purohit's family has alleged that Col. Shrivastava, who was detailed to escort Purohit to Delhi from Pachmarhi (in Madhya Pradesh), duped him into going to Mumbai and illegally handed him over to the ATS.
 
In doing so, Purohit's statutory complaint (a copy of which is with this correspondent), says Shrivastava and the ATS violated the law.
 
The statutory complaint, made in August 2009, had sought immediate investigation into all allegations against Col RK Shrivastava and other delinquent officers in the chain of command.
 
So far, however, sources say the Army has not initiated any investigation against Col. Shrivastava but has instead decided to use the provision under which the President can summarily dismiss an officer from service.
 
Top sources in the judge advocate branch of the army HQ say the process to dismiss Lt Col Purohit is already on. "He is an undesirable officer and we want him out of service as soon as possible," a senior officer says.
 
The Army will perhaps take a cue from the judgment that the AFT is scheduled to give on February 18 before going ahead and taking a final call on Purohit's status.

RS Chauhan in New Delhi