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The crucial twist in Lt Col Purohit's case

By Vicky Nanjappa
June 30, 2012 15:50 IST
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In 2008, slain Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare had arrested Lt Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit for spearheading right-wing terror and for supplying RDX for various operations.

He was made an accused in the Malegaon blast case along with Sadhvi Pragya Singh and others.

Four years later, the case has turned head over heels.

Lt Col Purohit, it is now being reported quoting statements made by officers in the court of inquiry, had actually infiltrated Hindu radical outfit Abhinav Bharat while being posted at Pachmarhi in Madhya Pradesh to snoop in on plans to carry out terror strikes in India.

When the allegation against Lt Col Purohit surfaced, the army, initially, did not conduct an inquiry. Instead, it handed him over to the ATS. It was much later that the Armed Forces Tribunal ordered that an inquiry be held and Lt Col Purohit be allowed to cross examine the witnesses.

Most of the witnesses testified that Lt Col Purohit had infiltrated into some of the camps of Abhinav Bharat and was collecting evidence. They also said that Lt Col Purohith had kept his higher ups in the loop about this operation.

This now puts the army in a spot of bother.

There are two questions that would need to be answered -- why was the intelligence provided by Lt Col Purohit not shared and why was an in-house inquiry not conducted before he was handed over to the ATS?

While the turn of events has stunned many, it is said that Lt Col Purohit could have been a victim of oversight.

The other probability is that Lt Col Purohit had to bear the brunt of rivalry with a few colleagues.

Lt Col Purohit has alleged that a colonel had deliberately not supported him. It is alleged that this colonel had intentionally blocked information to have him arrested.

Sources point out that it is too early to say what the reason may be, but if Lt Col Purohit's claims are correct then it is definitely not a case of oversight.

What Next?

The problem for Lt Col Purohit is that even if he manages to get a clean chit in the army court, he will still have to face trial in the Malegaon case.

In case, he is freed of the charges by the Army, he could, however, use that as a very strong defence in the trial against the ATS.

Legal experts, however, say that a clean chit by the army court would not mean an automatic acquittal in the ATS case. 

Once the trial commences he can use the witnesses he has cross examined in the CoI to testify on his behalf before the MCOCA court. If the MCOCA court considers this evidence then it would help him in the case.
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Vicky Nanjappa