New Delhi: Army officer Lt Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit is likely to be released from jail tomorrow as the formalities for his release will take some more time. The Supreme Court granted bail yesterday to Lt Col Purohit, who has been in the Mumbai prison for almost nine years in the 2008 Malegoan blasts case.
Within 24 hours of his release, Lt Col Purohit has to report to Pune, where the last Army unit he was posted at before his arrest is stationed. He was suspended in 2008 after his arrest but the suspension was revoked, according to his lawyer following the court of inquiry. Lt Col Purohit will report in uniform; the Army will review his suspension after examining the court order.
"I want to join my family and my organisation. I come from a family of soldiers. I am an individual and the Army will decide what to do next," he said today, adding that he looks forward to eating food cooked by his mother and spending time with his sons, who are 12 and 18.
On Monday, the Supreme Court granted bail to Lt Col Purohit pointing out that there were "variations" in the chargesheets filed by Maharashtra's Anti-Terror Squad and the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which later took over the case and had argued against bail. The court observed that the officer has already spent a long time in jail and that the trial is likely to stretch too.
Lt Col Purohit, who is accused of floating Abhinav Bharat, a right-wing group that was allegedly involved in bomb blasts on a motorcycle that killed seven people and injured over 100 others in Malegaon, a textile town 270 km from Mumbai, on September 29, 2008.
A former leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, was arrested in October that year and Lt Col Purohit was arrested in November. Both were charged with plotting the blasts. Lt Col Purohit is also accused of collecting huge funds and using them to procure arms and explosives and organising meetings where the Malegaon attack was planned.
Lawyers arguing the case have alleged that the previous Congress-led UPA government tried to project the case as a right wing conspiracy. Aparna Purohit, the officer's wife, has said "questions of political influences" had "damaged" their case for several years.
Senior lawyer Harish Salve represented Lt Col Purohit in the Supreme Court and said the case should be judged on its merits and politics should not be allowed to overshadow it.
"I am a small fry...I blame no one, I blame my destiny," said Col Purohit, who has all through pleaded that he was assigned by military intelligence to infiltrate various terror organisations and that his superiors were constantly in the loop about his actions and association with Abhinav Bharat.
He has claimed that the statements of witnesses against him are fabricated and that due process was not followed in prosecuting him as an officer of the Indian Army.