Lt Col Purohit Turns ‘Hostile Witness’ In Mecca Masjid Blast Case

Purohit, a prime accused in the Malegaon blasts case, had received conditional bail from the court in August 2017. 

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India
2 min read


Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.
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Lt Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit, a key witness in the Mecca Masjid blasts case of 2007, reportedly turned hostile on Wednesday, 14 February, when he was brought before the fourth additional metropolitan sessions judge-cum-special court for the National Investigation Agency (NIA), reported The Times of India.

According to the report, the NIA, after cross-examining, Lt Col Purohit a ‘hostile witness.’

Lt Col Purohit denied having any knowledge about the case, and further added that he had never met Swami Aseemanand, known better as Nabakumar Sarkar, who is the prime accused in the 2007 blasts, the report added.

Purohit himself is one of the prime accused in the Malegaon blasts case of 2008, and had spent nine years in jail for charges against his involvement in the same.

At least seven people were killed and 70 were injured in the Malegaon blasts that took place on 29 September 2008. Lt Col Purohit had been granted conditional bail by the court in August 2017. The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), headed by Hemant Karkare, that was investigating the case soon after, had found him to be the “brain behind the operation.”

Karkare had been killed in the 26/11 attacks that rocked Mumbai, when he was shot thrice in the chest by one of the terrorists he was trying to apprehend. For his heroic act, Karkare was posthumously honoured with the Ashoka Chakra on 26 January 2009.

Before handing over its reports to the NIA, a chargesheet had been filed by the CBI against the accused, which cited Purohit as prosecution witness number 106, the The Times of India added.

While Purohit denied having ever met Swami Aseemanand, he did admit to knowing Sunil Joshi, who was responsible for the bomb blast at Ajmer dargah. Joshi was shot dead by unknown persons, just a few metres away from his rented house in Chuna Khadan area of Dewas on 29 December 2017, India Today reported.

A special NIA court had found Joshi as well as two other Right-wing activists, Devendra Gupta and Bhavesh Bhai Patel, guilty of planning the blast and planting the explosive, Hindustan Times reported.

The CBI had also said he would prove that Aseemanand had called him on 29 December 2007, a few months after the Mecca Masjid blasts and had told him that Sunil Joshi had been murdered and was "apna banda," the HT report said.

Purohit also told the court that he did not have anything to do with the ‘Abhinav Bharat Trust’, a Right-wing organisation involved in the blasts, that he was rumoured to have founded.

But he did admit to knowing Ajay Rahirkar and Kulkarni, two others accused in the Malegaon blasts case, the report added.

As reported by Firstpost, on 18 January, Purohit had moved Supreme Court challenging a Bombay High Court order, which had dismissed his plea against the sanction for prosecution that was granted by the Maharashtra government under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

(With inputs from Times of India, India Today, Hindustan Times and Firstpost)

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