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'NIA failed to gather evidence against Lt Col Purohit'

By Sheela Bhatt
Last updated on: June 21, 2011 02:39 IST
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In a controversial twist, the National Investigation Agency has NOT named Col Prasad Srikant Purohit as one of the main conspirators in the charge sheet of Samjauta bomb blast case that was given to the media on Monday.

The blast on Samjhauta Express, which runs between Delhi and Lahore, killed 68 people on February 18, 2007.

The NIA's claim is intriguing, "Sandeep Dange, Ramji, Lokesh Sharma and others -- under the leadership of Sunil Joshi -- were instrumental in not only procuring the raw material for IED but also getting these fabricated and planted in the target."

A prominent weekly had carried a report filed by the NIA in April 2011 on the blast cases in Malegaon, Ajmer and Samjauta Express to the Home ministry that said, "The attacks in Ajmer Sharif, Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta are likely to have been carried out by the same group."

The 'group' included Purohit's name.

But, now NIA's chargesheet suggests that they failed to gather evidence against Purohit. According to a senior CBI official, Colonel Srikant Purohit is NOT involved in the Samjauta Bomb blast.

While talking exclusively to on the condition of anonymity, he said, "Neither the CBI nor the NIA could find evidence to link Purohit to the Samjauta blasts case."

The CBI official believes that Purohit had links with radical groups, or maybe he was making money beyond his stated income. But neither of the investigating agency could link him to the Samajauta blasts.

However, it should be noted that in November 2008, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad had told a Nashik court that Purohit had stolen 60 kg of RDX from Jammu & Kashmir in 2006.

It was reported, then, that some part of the stolen RDX was suspected to have been used in the Samjhauta Express blasts. After they were published, police officials from Haryana and Mumbai too quizzed Purohit, but even they could not link him to the Samjhauta blasts.

Moreover, the Maharastra ATS too, could not prove the charges in the court and stopped repeating the allegations.

In 2008, Purohit, a serving officer of the Indian Army, was accused of conspiracy for terror and murder and having links with a Hindu radical group that planned and executed bomb blasts in Malgaon, Ajmer and the Samjauta Express.  

His arrest in 2008 had sent shockwaves, because it was the first time ever that a serving officer was accused of an act of terror.

In the chargesheet filed before the Special Court in Panchkula, Haryana, the NIA has accused Aseemanand, Sunil Joshi, Lokesh Sharma, Sandeep Dange and Ramchandra Kalasangra alias Ramji, but not Purohit.

Purohit is facing serious charges for stealing 60 kg of RDX from the Army, which was used by the Hindu radical group, claims the chargesheet filed earlier.

In fact, CBI's record had explained how after the murder of Sunil Joshi, Aseemanand had called up Purohit to make "confession" to him about his involvement along with Joshi in the Ajmer Sharif bomb blast.

Aseemanand asked Purohit to find out who had murdered Joshi in Dewas. This telephone conversation has been corroborated by Purohit, Ajay Rahirkar, Sameer Kulkarni, etc, claims CBI.

It seems that the NIA chargesheet is heavily depending on Assemanand's confession.

Purohit is accused of being among the founder members of Abhinav Bharat, a then-obscure group. Assemananda had confessed that he had proposed the terror strikes in a group meeting at Bhopal in April 2008.

Sadhvi Pragya, Bharat Riteshwar, Purohit and Dayanand Pandey were in the meeting, too, a source said.

Aseemanand told the CBI that Purohit told him about the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader Indresh Kumar's alleged link with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, the source added.

Purohit had learnt of the same from Dr RP Singh, Aseemanand told the CBI. Dr. Singh had contacts with some people in Nepal who shared these details with him. This aspect had greatly disturbed Purohit and Aseemanand.

It's believed that the former chief of Mumbai ATS, the late Hemant Karkare, had shared this detail with RSS leaders and even with few Maharastra-based Bharatiya Janata Party leaders.

The leaked synopsis of the Samjauta Express blast chargesheet has not thrown any light on details of the RDX or other explosives procured by the radical terrorists.

A source said that Assemanand, one of the prime accused, was not capable of getting explosives on his own. According to NIA, Joshi was the prime operational terrorist who was charged on Monday, long after his murder, of the serious act of terrorism.

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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi