Malegaon blasts case: Lieutenant Colonel Purohit turns hostile, denies meeting Swami Aseemanand

Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, turned hostile on Wednesday when he was asked to appear before the fourth additional metropolitan sessions judge-cum-special court for the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Purohit, who is also the prime NIA witness in the 2007 Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blast case, denied having any knowledge of the incident. He also denied meeting Swami Aseemanand, the prime accused in the two incidents, a report in The Times of India said. However, Purohit admitted that he had spoken to Ajmer Dargah blast accused Sunil Joshi.

According to the report, the officer also said he never started the Abhinav Bharat Trust, although he acknowledged knowing Ajay Rahirkar and Kulkarni, two other accused in the Malegaon bomb blast case.

File image of Colonel Purohit. Image courtesy: CNN-News18

File image of Colonel Purohit. Courtesy: CNN-News18

On 18 January, Purohit had moved the Supreme Court challenging a Bombay High Court order dismissing his plea against the sanction for prosecution granted by the Maharashtra government under the 'Unlawful Activities Prevention Act'.

The high court had on 18 December last year dismissed Purohit's plea along with that of Sameer Kulkarni's, a fellow accused in the Malegaon blast case.

Earlier on 29 January, the Supreme Court had sought the Maharashtra government's response on Purhohit's plea, whereby he challenged proceedings against him under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act by the NIA court in the absence of valid sanction from a competent authority, IANS said.

The special NIA court, however, said that a conclusion cannot be drawn that Purohit had attended the alleged conspiracy meetings related to the blast in the discharge of his duty as a military intelligence officer. In its detailed order, the court said that the incriminating circumstances against Purohit are "not only about his presence in the meetings but also the manner in which he participated and the actual discussion and utterances made by him".

On 27 December, 2017, a special NIA court had dropped charges under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, Ramesh Upadhyay and Ajay Rahikar in the 2008 Malegaon blast case. While the court dropped all charges under sections 17, 20 and 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Arms Act, it decided that Sadhvi Pragya and Purohit will be tried under Section 18 of the former act as well as sections 120B, 302, 307, 304, 326, 427 and 153 A of the Indian Penal Code.

A powerful bomb exploded near the crowded Nooraji Mosque in Malegaon on the evening of 29 September, 2008, killing six and injuring 100 others.

Nine people were killed and 58 were wounded when a bomb exploded on 18 May, 2007, at Hyderabad's Mecca Masjid premises during Friday prayers.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Feb 15, 2018 15:36:21 IST

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