Lt Col Shrikant Purohit today got conditional bail from the Supreme Court following nine years in prison. He was among the key accused in the 2008 Malegaon bombing case along with Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur. in which seven people were killed.
Hemant Karkare, head of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which was investigating the Malegaon attack, was killed by Pakistani terrorists in Mumbai on 26/11 that too just after a month of the arrests of Purohit and Thakur.
The supposed association of quite a few rightwing extremists resulted in the case turning intensely political; the then union Home Secretary R K Singh released a list of suspects who were associated with the RSS, the BJP’s parent organisation. Singh is now the BJP MP from Arrah in Bihar.
Now the question arises that what was Lt Col Purohit’s supposed role in the 2008 Malegaon blasts? On September 29, 2008, a bomb concealed in an LML Freedom motorcycle exploded opposite the premises of Shakil Goods Transport Company taking life of seven people while 79 others got injured.
Following initial investigation, the Maharashtra ATS arrested Pragya, Purohit and retired Maj. Ramesh Upadhyay. Purohit, perhaps the first serving officer to have been arrested in a case of this kind, claimed at the time that he had infiltrated the Pune-based rightwing group Abhinav Bharat as an intelligence operative, and had kept his seniors in the loop.
Purohit was chargesheeted by the Maharashtra ATS in 2009 and by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in May 2016. In its chargesheet, which absolved Sadhvi Pragya for lack of evidence, the NIA said, “Purohit had proposed theory for a separate constitution for Hindu Rashtra with separate flag (Bhagwa flag) the constitution of Abhinav Bharat, and discussed about the formation of Central Hindu Government (Aryawart) against the Indian government and put forth concept of forming this government in exile in Israel and Thailand.”
The chargesheet also said, “It was also discussed (during a meeting in Faridabad on January 26, 2008) that they will eliminate the persons who oppose their ideologies…” The NIA recorded the statements of seven Military Intelligence officers who said they were not aware of Purohit’s alleged undercover operation to infiltrate Abhinav Bharat, the group that Purohit registered in 2006, giving his profession as farmer.