All through the trial in the military court Colonel Purohit stated that every action of his was known to his superiors who had assigned him to undertake undercover operations. Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com reports.
Will Lieutenant Colonel Srikant Purohit, one of the accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case, be let off by the Narendra Modi government? Unlikely, home ministry sources tell this correspondent.
In June, the colonel wrote to Prime Minister Modi seeking his assistance and hoping for a release from the Taloja central jail in Navi Mumbai where he has been imprisoned for over five years now, pending trial.
The home ministry will tread carefully on the matter, sources tell this correspondent, adding that the government would prefer not to interfere at this stage. "The government would prefer to wait till the court takes a call," a home ministry source said, adding, "What the government wants is that these cases are investigated soon."
There is little chance that the Malegaon case will reach a conclusion soon as the case against Colonel Purohit is becoming harder to establish.
The main allegation against the colonel is that he sourced military explosives for the February 18, 2007 blast on the Samjhautha Express.
This allegation had been made by Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorism Squad. But agents from the National Investigation Agency, who took on the investigation, are unable to establish such a link.
The NIA hopes to quiz Colonel Purohit about this, but have not secured his custody so far as there is a stay on the matter.
There is also Colonel Purohit's testimony before a military court where he said that he had infiltrated a Students Islamic Movement of India camp as an undercover operative. This confidential army report suggests that he had infiltrated SIMI to find out more about the outlawed organisation's functioning.
Colonel Purohit appealed to the government for an early release, citing his imprisonment for five years without a trial. He cited then Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde's statement that the government should ensure that Muslims are not wrongly arrested in terror cases as the minority community feels it is being targeted. The colonel asked why such a consideration was only being accorded to Muslims.
The Indian Army handed Colonel Purohit over to the Maharashtra ATS when he was in Madhya Pradesh learning Arabic for an undercover operation.
Aiding the colonel's defence is the testimony by 50 army personnel in the military court that he was, in reality, an infiltrator and not a conspirator. All through the trial in the military court Colonel Purohit stated that every action of his was known to his superiors who had assigned him to undertake undercover operations.
Image: Lieutenant Colonel Srikant Purohit, an accused in the Malegaon blasts case.