Wednesday, August 17th, 2022 18:07:49

Mockery Of Justice

Updated: September 13, 2014 3:03 pm


Both Sadhvi Pragya and Col Purohit have been in custody since 2008 after being arrested by the Maharashtra ATS in connection with Malegaon and Samjhauta Express blasts. The curious case, where no chargesheet could be submitted in nearly six years, gets murkier. The manner in which people who supposedly have been planners, masterminds, funders of the whole operations have been allowed to go scot free, and these two were used as scapegoats, poses a threat to the very foundations of the nation.

Purohit, who was with the Military Intelligence Wing, has yet not been suspended by his bosses and is in an unenviable situation where he is regularly receiving his salary with all the doles involved. Some of the statements of Purohit’s superiors in Annual Confidential Reports made during the court of inquiry suggest an officer who worked with great, if sometimes overzealous, enthusiasm and dedication. In 2005, Purohit in fact was invited to deliver a lecture on intelligence-gathering at the Mumbai headquarters of the same Anti-Terror Squad that later charged him with being one of the accused in the Malegaon blasts. The results of the military inquiry paint a different picture of Purohit, wherein he emerges not as a terrorist mastermind but as an efficient intelligence officer. Each of the 59 witnesses called by the military panel described him as a man with a proven track record of infiltrating extremist organisations in the past, including SIMI, Tabliq-e-Jamat, and Naxal organisations. Much of the evidence that the ATS gives can be explained as part of his undercover work. Purohit during his interrogation had asserted that his job as an MI spy included interacting with both Hindu and Muslim extremists. There is no direct proof of his participation in the execution of the blasts themselves.

Pragya case was used by Narendra Modi during the campaign trail. The RSS in many of its programmes had tom-tommed the ‘saffron terror’ cliché imposed on them by the Congress-led UPA. Both Modi and Rajnath Singh had said that the Sadhvi had been detained illegally. After the landslide victory, the NDA seems to have quietly forgotten the plight of the Colonel and the suffering Sadhvi.

Both Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi, who were meted out life sentences for the Naroda Patiya massacre, were given bail on grounds of poor health right after the NDA swept into power. Kerala-based PDP Chairman and 2008 serial bomb blast case prime accused Abdul Nasser Madani was granted bail by the Supreme Court on medical grounds; police officers implicated in the Tulsi Prajapati and Sohrabuddin cases were let free. But the Sadhvi remains in custody, despite the fact that she suffers from terminal cancer and no chargesheet has been filed in six years.

As terrorist charges against them and others become increasingly surreal, the possibility of their being substantiated in a court of law also appears more remote. The Mumbai Anti-Terror Squad is struggling with new sub-plots, so it would be better to release them and save face. The bogey of ‘Hindu terror’ had initial plausibility, but it fell apart as the arrests degenerated into a fishing expedition of anyone who knew anyone, and the list of their “successful crimes” became truly incredible. The allegation that Lt Col Purohit supplied RDX for the Samjhauta Express blast blew the case to smithereens as that blast was caused by an incendiary device; the army does not stock RDX; the impugned officer had no access to any explosives nor knowledge of bomb-making; and there is simply no way an army officer could be involved in so much covert activity without being detected.

In 2008, shortly after the Sadhvi was arrested, Mr. K.P.S. Gill, the nation’s most valiant police officer, led a citizen’s delegation to the National Human Rights Commission where he said that never in his career had he seen a 10-day police remand for any woman, let alone a Sadhvi. The VHP has already conveyed its demand for their release to the party’s central leadership and wants Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take ‘special interest’ in the case. Modi will never entertain such demands that will hamper the larger image of the party. After staying so many years out of power, leaders close to Modi will not interfere in sensitive cases irrespective of pressure from a few VHP leaders or Hindu organisations. In a secret conclave held with the VHP, the Sangh had asked them to put the Ramjanmbhoomi matter in the cooler for two years.

On October 19, 2012, Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir personally headed the bench that granted bail to journalist Syed Mohammad Ahmed Kazmi who was arrested on March 6 in the Israeli diplomat car attack case. In that case, as in the case of Kanimozhi and other accused in the 2G scam, the apex court upheld bail as a right. It remains a mystery why bail continues to elude Sadhvi Pragya and Purohit even though the prosecution has completely failed to make a case that it can even present to the court. This case is being prolonged with no concrete direction. My question is: Have they forgotten Purohit and Sadhvi’s case or other issues also as per their convenience? Can they expect ‘Achche Din’ soon?

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