Lt. Col Prasad Purohit, the first ever serving military officer to have been accused of being involved in a terror case (Malegaon blast, 2008), is battling on two fronts to clear his name. An NIA case is pending against him and simultaneously an Army Court of Inquiry has been on against him since 2009.
The Army Court of Inquiry concluded at the end of May. According to testimonies available with me and some other journalists, all 55 witnesses, except one, cross-examined by Purohit said they do not believe that Lt. Col Purohit is involved in any anti-national or terror activities.
Will this make any difference to the NIA case? Which way will the Army Court of Inquiry go?
More importantly, is Purohit guilty or is he innocent?
Did the Army in 2008 jump the gun in handing him over to the Maharashtra ATS even before conducting its own internal enquiry and without looking at Purohit’s past record? Did a serving Military Intelligence serving colonel detain and torture Lt. Col Purohit and hand him over to the ATS illegally as the statutory complaint (appended below) suggests?
So many unanswered questions.
I raised some of them in this story I did for NDTV on Friday here:
When contacted the Army has denied any wrong doing and said in response to my queries that everything was done in accordance with law.
There is a lot of fog. Clarity is elusive.
No IC 55224A Rank Lieutenant Colonel Name Purohit Prasad Shrikant
Subject Matter : DV (AG)
Date of Complaint : August 2009
Nature of Complaint : *STATUTORY/NON-STATUTORY
Provision under which : @ ___________________________
complaint is made
* Strike out whichever is inapplicable
@ State here specifically the relevant provision of the
statute or Rules or Army Order under which complaint is made. PART I
SALIENT DETAILS OF THE COMPLAINT
No IC 55224A Rank Lieutenant Colonel Name Purohit Prasad Shrikant
1. Date posted to present unit 03 October 2007
2. Present appointment Student Officer wef 03 October 2007
(Arabic Language Course)
3. Period complaint pertains to From __________ to ____________
4. Unit complaint pertains to Integrated HQ of MoD (Army)
5. Name of the Commanding Officer Brig Sandep Kumar
(CO) during the period at Ser 3 Commandant,
AEC School & Centre
6. Circumstances in brief, leading to complaint
(a) I, IC 55224A Lieutenant Colonel Purohit Prasad Shrikant, am presently in the judicial custody of Special MCOCA Court No 56 (Mumbai Sessions) as accused No 9 in the Malegaon Bomb Blast Case. The case is sub-judice and the Court has not passed any verdict so far.
(b) I was officially arrested on 05 Nov 2008. Prior to my arrest, and illegal detention before that, I was attending Arabic Language Course (Ser No 2) at Army Education Corps, Training College and Centre, Pachmarhi, Distt Hoshangabad (MP).
(c) Colonel R K Shrivastav, Sena Medal (Director Military Intelligence – 9) arrived at Pachmarhi on 24 Oct 2008. On the same night all officers of Intelligence Corps attending various courses at Army Education Corps Training College and Centre were made to assemble at the Commandant’s Office at around 23.30 hrs. I was the last one to interact with Colonel R K Shrivastav, Sena Medal (Director Military Intelligence – 9). This interaction took place in the presence of Brigadier (now Major General) Sandeep Kumar, Commandant AEC Training College and Centre.
(d) When I entered the Commandant’s office, Colonel R K Shrivastav, Sena Medal (Director Military Intelligence – 9) asked me the first question, and I quote here – “How many terrorists have you trained in the jungles Purohit?” I was taken aback with this question and I answered that I have not done anything of this sort.
(e) Then he asked me about Malegaon Bomb Blast issue to which I answered that on 15 Oct 2009, I have already forwarded a hand written report to 1/6 Team of Central Command Liaison Unit at Jabalpur, addressed to Major Bhagirath Dey (Intelligence officer of the team at Jabalpur). I have attached this report as Appendix ‘A’ to this letter. I also informed Colonel Shrivastav that on 13 Oct 2008 I had telephonically informed Colonel Vinay S Panchpore (Commanding Officer of Southern Command Liaison Unit) and Major Praveen Khanzode (Intelligence Officer of A Team/ 3 Detachment of Southern Command Liaison Unit located at Deolali). This was done in view of the facts mentioned in Para 4 above.
(f) Later at about 0100 hrs on 25 Oct 2008 I was taken to the VIP guest room ‘SHIKSHA’ of Army Education Corps Training College and Centre’s Officers Mess and I was questioned by Colonel R K Shrivastav in presence of Brigadier (now Major General) Sandeep Kumar, Commandant, Army Education Corps Training College and Centre. However the Commandant Brigadier (now Major General) Sandeep Kumar left the location at around 0300 hrs on 25 Oct 2008. Before I was taken to this guest room I was ordered to deposit my mobile phones with Colonel Shrivastav which I did. Though this was an illegal order, I complied with it as I did not doubt his intentions at that time. This session of interrogation went on till 0800 hrs 25 Oct 2008. These complete proceeding were conducted without giving me any written order or directions by higher authorities. I presumed that these exist as the Commandant of the Army Education Corps School & Centre was present initially.
(g) After this, that is after 0800hrs on 25 Oct 2008, Colonel Shrivastav did not carry out any questioning to me other than meeting me at my residence on two occasions and in social get-together at Officers Institute. On 29 Oct 2008, I was called by Lieutenant Colonel G C Mohanta, Adjutant, Army Education Corps College and Centre to his office at around 0900 hrs and was told that I have to accompany Colonel Shrivastav to New Delhi. A movement order to this effect giving the destination as Integrated Headquarters of Army (MOD) for interaction with Military Intelligence – 20 was handed over to me in the presence of Colonel Shrivastav and two other officers namely Lt Col Mohanta and Lt Col Snajay Kumar (Attached as Appendix ‘B’). When I along with Colonel Shrivastav were about to leave for Bhopal from where we were to board the flight to New Delhi, I was told not to carry any mobile phone and was made to deposit the one which I was carrying with the adjutant Army Education Corps Training College and Centre. I was carrying my mother’s mobile then. The same was handed over to my wife on 30 Oct 2008. This illegal order of Colonel Shrivastav was obeyed by me keeping in mind previous two days events.
(h) After checking-in at the Bhopal Airport (checking in was done by Colonel Shrivastava), I was told that we were going to Mumbai instead of New Delhi. My mobile phone was already deposited with Adjutant, Army Education Corps School & Centre. I was neither allowed to inform my wife/mother about this change in destination nor allowed access to any public phone by Colonel Shrivastav. He threatened to use physical force if I tried to use public phone facility. This also amounted to illegal detention by him. We reached Mumbai Airport late at night at around 2230 or 2300hrs on 29 Oct 2008. Immediately, I was taken in a civil TATA Sumo vehicle (which purportedly was of Intelligence Bureau) which drove approximately for two hours. We arrived at an unknown place at the end of the journey. Immediately, I was taken to a room having no windows for interrogation. A team of interrogators were already present there. This team comprised of Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Maharashtra Police and Intelligence Bureau officials. Though all of them were in civil dress, I got to know the names, designation and appointments of all these officials in due course of time.
(j) I was interrogated by this combined team for almost two hours on the night of 29/30 Oct 2008. Till then all the members of interrogating team was talking to me with a respect deserved by an army officer. After initial two hours of questioning, it was Colonel Shrivastav (Director Military Intelligence – 9) who suddenly sprung from his chair and initiated a brutal physical assault on me. He slapped me on my face at will and continued slapping me and started kicking me all over the body with his shoes on. Colonel R K Shrivastav then started pulling my hair on head and chest as well. At this stage the other interrogators, including the Indian Police Service cadre officers of Anti Terrorism Squad and Intelligence Bureau officers, joined him in physically assaulting me. My face was totally swollen then. Colonel R K Shrivastav’s actions of physical assault on me made the Police and Intelligence Bureau officers shed their inhibition of carrying out physical torture of mine, a serving army officer. Colonel R K Shrivastav then stood on my feet and legs as I was tied to a chair and inhumanly started twisting my nipples and my private parts (genitals) with all his strength. Colonel Shrivastav once again started hitting me on my face and even boxing me with tight fists on my back. Colonel Shrivastav was holding and pulling my hair on head while the other Indian Police Service officers tortured me. I was in absolute state of shock and totally shattered by this physical assault carried out by Colonel R K Shrivastav,Sena Medal, (Director Military Intelligence – 9).
(k) This nightmare of physical assaults hitting, slapping, twisting of private parts, tying me to a chair, standing on my legs, feet coupled with dirtiest possible abuses on my mother, wife and sister continued till unabated. After four days of continuous beating and torture, on 02 Nov 2008, Colonel Shrivastav ordered the Police to handcuff me. This was breach of privilege for the serving army officer and it was not police officers but insistence of Col Srivastav which caused the same. I was handcuffed and remained in that condition till 04 Nov 2008.
(l) The sequence of beating and brutal torture was intermittently on with Colonel Shrivastav abusing me about my mother, wife and sister. He kept on threatening me that if I don’t own up my involvement in the Malegaon Bomb Blast, he (Colonel Shrivastav) would strip my mother, wife and sister and make them parade naked in front of me. Police officially arrested me on 05 Nov 2008 and the legal process commenced.
(m) From 29 Oct 2008 to 04 Nov 2008, I was not allowed to talk to my family members even once over the telephone. I was confined to the same unknown location with round the clock Police guard guarding me while I was in handcuffed condition. I was totally broken down and traumatized, both physically and mentally. It was not any state police but Col Srivastav, who led me into the trap of illegal detention and torture.
(n) Colonel R K Shrivastav kept on insisting that I should own up my involvement in the Malegaon Bomb Blast and should give it in writing, to which I asked him how I could own up something which I am not even aware of. The only possible explanation I could assign to his malafied actions is his efforts to boost his career prospects in the most un-officer like manner.
(o) Once I was arrested and lodged in the Police Custody, on 14 Nov 2008 my father in law and my advocate had come to meet me at the said Police Station. Colonel Shrivastav was present there. Colonel Shrivastav said that it is his promise that my sons would live in an orphanage henceforth as he would ensure my entire family would be arrested and imprisoned.
(p) On 15 Nov 2008, during the court hearing at Nashik, I mentioned about the torture and happenings from 29 Oct to 04 Nov 2008 to my wife. Subsequently my wife had written letter to COAS on 16 Nov 2008 ( copy of the letter is attached as Appendix ‘D’) to which no acknowledgment or reply received so far.
(q) I was in police custody for approximately for a month and thereafter in judicial custody. I was not given any access to correspond or communicate with my wife or relatives in police custody. Even in judicial custody, my first thought was to overcome physical pain resulted because of torture. I requested the Court for my medical inspection at military hospital. It was conducted at INHS Asvini I Mid December 2008. This report is attached as Appendix ‘C’. The assessment given in the medical report corroborates the injuries suffered by me were of recent past.
(r) As I understand the legal procedure, if at all I am involved in any criminal activity. The police will seek permission of army authorities for my custody. Probably it was sought and granted but I was not informed of the same initially or subsequently. An army officer can not be absconding like any normal civilian. Hence the secrecy surrounding the actions leading to my arrest can not be understood. Thus, I can safely presume that it was handiwork of Col Srivastav to keep everything under wraps and expose a brother officer to torture and inhuman treatment.
(s) Military Intelligence is not the investigating agency but the intelligence agency and in any case a single member investigation is not desirable in any case for inherent flaws of personal biases and fancies. Col Srivastav assumed the charge of proceeding single handedly and overstepped his mandate (if at all any was specified) in mistreating and torturing me.
(t) I do not have any relation whatsoever with Malegaon bomb blast case. In any case, till such time I am declared guilty by the court of law, I am innocent and hence deserve the privileges of a serving army officer and also as a normal human being.
(u) Maharashtra police can arrest an individual from Madhya Pradesh only after informing local police. This would not have been possible because Madhya Pradesh police would have asked for warrant or incriminatory evidence to allow Maharashtra police to do so. Maharashtra police took safe way in forcing army authorities completing their not so easy job. Whenever an accused is transported from one state to other a transit remand is required and Maharashtra police were sure of scrutiny by MP police. It was quite evident from the proceedings of the case that no such evidence or foolproof case was with Maharashtra. I am claiming so because even while under army law, I am enjoying the status of citizen of India and protected by laws of the land.
7. Main points of the complaint I have the following complaints against Colonel R K Shrivastav, Sena Medal (Director Military Intelligence – 9) that during the period from 29 Oct 2008 to 05 Nov 2008 he has
(a) He cheated brother officer (me) by not informing about the orders of arrest available with him.
(b) He willfully misguided me by getting movement order for New Delhi prepared and forcefully diverting me to Mumbai.
(c) He took upon himself the job of Maharashtra police which was not mandated to him (presuming that he was given responsibility to hand me over to Maharashtra police) in detaining, torturing and mistreating me.
(d) He wrongly confined me and illegally detained me, initially at Panchmarhi and later on at unknown place in Maharashtra.
(e) He did not allow me to contact my wife or mother or any other relative.
(f) He physically assaulted me even after knowing fully well that I am a serving officer.
(g) He forcefully tried to extract a false statement and forced me to give a statement for the actions and acts not done by me.
(h) He tried inhuman methods to extract false confession.
(j) He kept on slapping false allegations and accusations against me during my interrogation and thereafter during Court of Inquiry.
(k) He used unparliamentarily, abusive and extremely derogatory language, abuses and remarks against the women members of my family.
(l) He violated the human rights of brother officer by his actions over the said period.
8. Redress Sought
(a) I request the contents of my statutory complaint may kindly be investigated at the earliest stage and suitable action be taken against Col R K Srivastav, SM, (Dir MI 9) and other delinquent officers in the chain of command. Your decision may be communicated at the early date.
(b) Col R K Srivastav, SM (Dir MI 9) may be directed to pay the damages to me for the mental and physical agonies caused by him.
9. Supporting Documents attached (if any) :
||Purpose for which attached
|Copy of my letter to Maj Bhagirath Dey
|15 Oct 2008
||To show that I was reporting the matter in official channel and had no religious/fundamentalist feelings while performing the duty.
|AEC School and Centre Movement Order No 01247/5/Arabic/A
|28 Oct 2008
||To present the facts, which were misrepresented by Col R K Srivastav, SM
|Copy of Medical Report
|11 Dec 2008
||To show that my injuries are new and were attributable to Col R K Srivastav’s physical assault on me.
|Mrs Aparna Purohit’s letter to COAS
dated 16 Nov 2008 (two pages)
|16 Nov 2008
||My wife earnest request to COAS. COAS or Army HQ has taken adequate precautions but Col R K Srivastav not only overstepped his mandate by disobeying orders given to him but also treated brother officer in inhuman manner.
10. Certificates :
(a) I undertake that any false statement or false accusation made by me in this complaint will render me liable for disciplinary action.
(b) I hereby certify that I have not forwarded any other complaint on this issue earlier.
I have forwarded following complaint earlier. This complaint has been necessitated due to new facts coming to light. My previous compliant on the subject was forwarded on ___________ to ________.
Date : (Signature of the complainant)