The first-ever serving Indian army officer arrested on charges of terrorism related to the Malegaon blast of Sept 2008, Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit breaks his silence and answers a few questions. Excerpts:
Has your ideology got you in the dock?
What ideology are you talking about?
Your right-wing ideology.
This is a tricky question, involving both the army services and subjudice matters. I won’t be able to comment on this.
Can you explain to us the dynamics of Abhinav Bharat?
I infiltrated Abhinav Bharat. I have done my job properly, have kept my bosses in the loop and everything is on paper in the army records. Those who need to know, know the truth.
What was your equation with Sudhakar Chaturvedi, your co-accused?
It is already on record in the court of inquiry that he was my source. I had cultivated him during my tenure in Deolali. Infiltrating a group works like a force multiplier. If Sudhakar Chaturvedi is giving me all the crucial information in one sitting, why should I run around for information? I would just call Chaturvedi to my office, talk to him and he would give me all the information. That’s how I was running the source.
But Abhinav Bharat is a right-wing organisation involved in the blast.
Having a particular ideology does not make me a terrorist or anti-national. I will reiterate that not even my enemy can doubt my loyalty to my motherland. As to Abhinav Bharat’s involvement, the matter is subjudice.
At any point, did you interact with your co-accused Dayanand Pandey, Sameer Kulkarni or Ajay Rahirkar?
All I’ll say is, Rahirkar is a childhood friend. About others, I won’t say anything.
But there are explosive telephonic conversations between you and Pandey where you are using abusive words and talking about ‘Hindu rashtra’. Do you deny this?
Why should I deny it? Who is denying it? Being an intelligence officer or even as a civilian I am allowed to talk to people. Nothing bars me from talking to anyone. You must be having those transcripts. Have you heard or read anywhere in those transcripts people talking or discussing the Malegaon blast for which I have been behind bars for three-and-a-half years? If people don’t understand what infiltration is, it is a sorry state of affairs. Today it’s me, tomorrow it could be someone else. It is a warning signal to all intelligence officers.
Was it as part of the same job that you attended those three religious meetings in Faridabad, Calcutta and Bhopal which were also attended by other Malegaon accused?
I have given the reports about the meetings to my seniors. It’s on record. It depends on perception. These three meetings have got nothing to do with Malegaon blast. Just because the chargesheet says so, it’s not the gospel truth.
If Purohit was doing only what his job demanded, why did the army hand him over to the ats so quickly (‘I infiltrated Abhinav Bharat’)? Could it be that they didn’t want to expose their other right-wing operatives?
Our ‘secular’ government needed Purohit in prior to the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh. Now they need him out prior to the Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh elections.
S. Bengani, on e-mail
Why Outlook even bothered to publish the evidence of its own incompetence is the only mystery here.
A. Abhi, on e-mail
Why would the army be interested in infiltrating Abhinav Bharat? I haven’t heard of the force being involved in internal security and intelligence-gathering.
Arun Sathaye, Indore
Transcripts of Tapes Detailing Conversations between Colonel SP Purohit, Major Ramesh Upadhyay, former BJP MP BL Sharma, Dayanand Pandey, Col. Dhar and RP Singh, an endocrinologist at Apollo Hospital.
Shyam Apte: [RSS chief] Mohan Bhagwat doesn’t have a full grip on this issue. The organisation, which he wants to build, is not happening. Hiring people and training them doesn’t make an organisation. I told Col. [SP] Purohit that people in the army shouldn’t know about his activities. He has already been given a memo. I want you to warn him that he shouldn’t be court martialled. We can rebuild Abhinav Bharat on a big scale if we need to.
Dayanand Pandey: Now, listen about the plans. I have called the person with the chemicals, woh mere paas aayega (will come to me)... I will use the same guy to do the work. He will reach by the 8th.
Apte: I am doubtful. On the 18th, Mohan Bhagwat will reach Delhi. He is putting two plus two. Indresh [Kumar] must have told him, I may go to Yeshwant. So he must be waiting to discuss it with me. If he comes, then our job is over. I am not worried. I am insisting because they [Indresh and Bhagwat] are our enemies.
Pandey: I have another option. There is a guy in Varanasi, a professional, who can do the work for us. He said he could do it. He will take 50 percent before killing and 50 later. I have used him earlier, too.
Apte: Aapne Rs 5 lakh diye toh woh hain yaa nahi (You gave Rs 5 lakh, is it still there?)
Dayanand: Maine isi liye kaha woh chemical ke bare mein. Post-mortem mein bhi woh cheez nahi aayegi aur mere liye toh usmein koi risk nahi hai. (That’s why I had mentioned about that chemical. The post-mortem won’t show the chemical, there is no risk for me). I have told him whatever time it takes, we are fine with it. I think this work will be done within two months.
Apte: Nagpur, Jhandewalan and Pune are my domains. I asked him when he was travelling by train. Mohan Bhagwat talked to me in Pune and was trying to convince me about Indresh, that he came from a good family. I spoke to [BJP leader] Murli Manohar Joshi also and have asked him to speak to Bhagwatji.
Pandey: We could have done this in Pune itself when he was here. I know of a man called Yadav from Azamgarh who could have done this (Investigators feel here they are talking about the attempt on the life of Bhagwat).
Col. SP Purohit: We have to fight for our constitution and right. If Muslims can come down in huge numbers, why can’t we? We should have some nuisance value on the national, political and international level.
Maj. Upadhyay: I am just proposing as to why are we doing this. Even the BJP can’t be successful as we are fighting the constitution. This is not Hindu bharat desh, we have to fight the war. We can’t just keep talking about Ram Sethu.
Col. Purohit: We have done two such operations earlier which were successful. I was the one who had got the equipment for all of them. On 24 June 2007, we were to have a meeting with King Gyanendra. Col. Lajpat Prajwal, who is now a brigadier, was the one who made the meeting possible. We have to make use of the fact that nobody in this country will be able to figure out who is behind all this.
RP Singh: The BJP has a problem with the VHP. The VHP will be like a headless chicken without Ashok Singhal and Pravin Togadia.
Col. Purohit: The BJP will be as effective as the Shiv Sena at the national level if they remove the VHP. What do we expect from these people? Major Saheb has 20 people and we will train them.
Pandey: People from Israel came and asked us this, we don’t exchange mails, we just save them as drafts. I had also told Pravin bhai that these Maoists will be dominant and we have to do something about this. What Islam is doing is known to all of us. Aggressive Hindutva is what we need now.
RP Singh: King Gynendra ke samdhi hamaaare saath baithe the in Gorakhpur (King Gyanendra’s relative was with us in Gorakhpur). We have been getting the Nepalis together and tell them the truth. Some of the Nepalis have to come here. I have been telling Mohan Bhagwat about this. I told police chief Subhash Joshi about this and he was pained by the fact that the BJP is helping the Maoist forces. I have also been in touch with an old RSS man but could not take it ahead. Maj. Prayag Modak was the one who came to our meeting. Also helping us are Col. Raikar and Col. Hasmukh Patel, who are commanding officers. Lajpat Prajwal is from the side of Rani Aishwarya. By the way, Col. Dhar is here…
Col. Purohit: Namaskar Dharji. Let me introduce to the people here. We are on the same plane… Hindu rashtra.
RP Singh: Some like-minded Christians will also be helping us. I had very good relations with Ashok Singhal. He is a great guy but the Sangh men did not let him continue. He agreed with me on the Nepal issue. But Sangh has maintained its distance from him and because of me the entry of Indresh is restricted from VHP. Indresh is the same man who had meetings with Mulayam Singh Yadav and sarsanghchalak. I have been told that Indresh is involved with the ISI. At least Mayawati is better than these RSS guys. But she is not loyal. I met Murli Manohar Joshi and LK Advani and told Advani that he was doing a bigger blunder than Jawaharlal Nehru. Kal Pratibha ko lekar TV pe interview kar raha tha (he was being interviewed on TV), he is showing his tears and Barkha [Dutt] is interviewing him. Ravi Shankar Prasad doesn’t know what is happening in the BJP.
Pandey: I have been told that 54 people in the Sangh have been sold out to the ISI.
RP Singh: No hope can be kept of people like Indresh who are already neutralised. And till people like these are alive, there is no hope. In this situation traditional means won’t help. There is no point approaching Indresh for help. They removed BL Sharma and Govindacharya. Indresh gave a statement in Dhanbad appeasing Muslims and the people getting compromised are Indresh’s own men. The RSS should also pay a price for their betrayal. They should say that Indresh made us pay a price for ideological betrayal.
Pandey: It is a common sentiment that an organisation needs to be brought in to counter the Sangh. People like Ram Madhav and Indresh are being fed by the Sangh.
Col. Purohit: I have the population figures of Muslims in each state. But I have only three AK-47 guns. We couldn’t buy more earlier because we didn’t have the requisite funds.
Maj. Upadhyay: Cox bazaar mein they sell AK rifles but they are mostly jihadis.
Col. Purohit: You will get very expensive AK guns.
Pandey: Arrey, you get many AK guns.
Col. Purohit: The Israelis ask us to give them proof of our involvement. What more proof do they need? We have completed two successful operations.
Maj. Upadhyay: Hyderabad mein jo bomb blasts kiya tha woh apna hi aadmi tha. Woh colonel aapko batayenge kisne kiya tha (The Hyderabad blasts were done by our man. The colonel can tell you who it was).
Pandey: What if this organisation is banned?
Apte: We will give it an international aspect... and a covert name. We have to fight. See, if you aren’t a Hindu, you are my enemy. I will be unsafe if you are alive.
Why is an Indian Army officer being used to infiltrate an Indian terror outfit? Isn't this the job of the Police or the IB, both of which have nothing to do with the military forces? Or is it that our police and IB are so full of nincompoops that they need someone even to show them how to get to the toilet?
Many journalists may be working for RAW or IB without knowing themselves that they are working for an intelligence wing. That is how intelligence agencies work , though they also have regular employees ,field workers and their informers.
Army has got its own intelligence wings and for a long time they have been demanding an external intelligence wing capabilities as well ( so as not to depend on RAW ) and as far as I can remember , they got these capabilities now.
Col.Purhit was working for Army intelligence wing ,there is no doubt and Army itself is not denying it. He had to work as per assignment and it is not his responsibility where the collected information goes, and how it would be filtered through and how it would be collated ,analysed and passed on to action wings. It is important to note that when Purohit was transferred , he had handed over the informer details to the new person.
Whether Army had given him this assignment , that is the question. If an army man is required to create confidence in a target group an army man would be used. An intelligence collection would not be in a film style. And infiltration is by far to a great extent is accepted but also restrained in the workings of our IB agencies at least.
It can be clearly seen that this man is being targeted to create the trem 'Hindu Terrorism' so much for the appeasement policy of Congress.
" Funny that these bunch of communalist bigots thriving on Hidu-Muslim divide, should pretend to uphold the tenets of secularism."
The Congress was trying to justify Rahul Gandhi's comments about hindu terrorism being more dangerous. We had alleged few incidents by non entities, but that was not enough. If they could get someone in Army involved in this, it would have made their case strong. Poor Purohit. Tried to help, ended as a pawn in political game.
Interestingly we are hearing this side of this story now. I am sure Purohit would have told this to NSA long time back. So these things would have been sorted out long time back. It explains how NSA has become a tool to play political game. Interestingly all the NGOs who fight for innocent terror convicts are absent.
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