Lt Col Shrikant Purohit wrote to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar saying he has been falsely implicated in the case. "I have been robbed of honour, dignity and rank and punished for serving the nation," he said. (File Photo)
- 'Forced to falsely testify against Lt Col Purohit', claimed two witnesses
- Witnesses, in cases where Hindu groups are charged, influenced: Congress
- 'No role of agencies to influence witnesses', said minister Kiren Rijiju
Army Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Purohit, seen for many years as the face of what the Congress calls "saffron terror," was not involved in the 2008 bomb blast in Maharashtra's Malegaon, witness after witness seem to suggest.
Seven people were killed when two bombs fitted on a motorcycle exploded on September 29, 2008. Lt Col Purohit was arrested along with some others and they were charged with plotting the blasts as part of a pro-Hindu group.
NDTV has exclusively accessed the statements in court of two such witnesses who allege that they were forced to falsely testify against Lt Col Purohit and others accused in the case.
Yashpal Bhadana and Dr RP Singh have retracted the statements they made before the Anti Terrorism Squad or ATS in Mumbai in 2008, soon after members of a pro-Hindu group Abhinav Bharat were arrested in the case in 2008.
"At the meetings of Abhinav Bharat in Faridabad and Bhopal, before me no one discussed blasting bombs or killing people or sparking riots... I have never said this in any of my earlier statements," Dr RP Singh, a doctor by profession, told a magistrate at Delhi's Patiala House Court this month.
The ATS says Dr Singh had earlier reported that Lt Col Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya and Swami Aseemanand, the main accused in the Samjhauta Express blast of 2007, had discussed the Malegaon blasts at meeting in Bhopal in April 2008.
Yashpal Bhadana too has denied attended a meeting where a terror conspiracy was scripted. He told court he was threatened that he would be implicated in the case if he did not testify against Lt Col Purohit and the others.
The ATS has alleged that it was Yashpal Bhadana who said that Swami Aseemanand had talked of "bomb ka badla bomb (bomb for a bomb)" in these meetings.
Lt Col Purohit, in jail for the last seven years, has maintained that he was assigned by military intelligence to infiltrate various terror organisations and that his superiors were constantly in the loop.
This month the lieutenant colonel, who attends court hearings impeccably dressed in crisp shirts and trousers and polished shoes, wrote to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar saying he has been falsely implicated in the case. "I have been robbed of honour, dignity and rank and punished for serving the nation," he said.
Mr Parrikar has asked the Army to provide Lt Col Purohit with all the documents he has sought to prove his innocence in the Malegaon blasts case.
The Congress has alleged that witnesses are being influenced in cases in which pro-Hindu groups are charged; 40 witnesses have turned hostile in blast cases in Ajmer, Malegoan and the Samjhauta blast.
"Purohit supplied RDX to these people. How can he be given clean chit?" said senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh.
"It is between the court and the witnesses to deal with the whole issue. There is no role for the agencies to influence witnesses. These politically charged allegations are false," Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home told NDTV.