Recently a special court of National Investigation Agency (NIA) has refused to drop the charges of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against Lt Col Purohit who is a highly decorated officer having received commendation from the Chief of Army Staff and many awards and citations for courage shown in eliminating dangerous terrorists, demolishing established terror networks through a well-built and organized source input network.
He was arrested when six people were killed and nearly 100 injured when an explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque at Malegaon, a town in Maharashtra’s Nashik district, on September 29, 2008.
There has been a cloud over the investigations from the time they were launched, claiming they were politically motivated. Initial investigations were conducted by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) led by Hemant Karkare, who was subsequently killed in the Mumbai terror attack on November 26, 2008. The case was handed over to the NIA in 2011. Since Lt. Col. Purohit was a serving officer of the Indian Army, a Court of Inquiry was set up to investigate allegations of terrorism on the officer. Later, he was exonerated and held not guilty by the Court of Inquiry but it did not have any say in the civil courts as the case concerned terrorism.
The officer has since been vehemently denying the charges and alleges that he is being falsely prosecuted. It is pertinent to note the charges under stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) have already been dropped against the accused in 2017 but Supreme Court, where he was represented by Senior Advocate Harish Salve had dismissed the officer’s plea seeking a court-monitored investigation by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into his alleged kidnapping, illegal detention and brutal torture in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.
Many including his colleagues in the army have time and again reiterated that he is being falsely prosecuted and made the face of ‘saffron terrorism’. In an interview Brigadier Raj Kumar (Retired), who was the nodal officer of the army in the Malegaon blast case had said, “I personally enquired into these allegations, I went to Pune and Mumbai, took help of IB and found that these allegations were baseless, then this officer was called back and suitable action was taken against him, “While rejecting his plea, the high court had said that the NIA court must examine the applicability of UAPA against him, before framing charges against him in the case. Now that the NIA court has refused to drop the UAPA charges, Col Purohit will be prosecuted for the same.
Student Reporter- INBA