was Malegaon mastermind,
7 Nov 2008,
0102 hrs IST, Mateen Hafeez, TNN
A blast victim in September 2006 (File Photo)
Lieutenant-Colonel Purohit, the first serving officer of the Indian
Army to be arrested in
connection with a terror bomb attack, has confessed
mastermind of the Malegaon blast. The 37-year-old officer reportedly
told police he had mapped the conspiracy and provided the explosive
for the for the September 29 'revenge' attack which killed six
It is learnt that Purohit, who
was arrested on November 5, admitted to supplying the deadly
RDX and weapons to members of the Abhinav Bharat, a radical
Hindu outfit. Sources said the Mumbai's Anti-Terrorism Squad
was planning to question another serving
officer in this connection whose name
cropped up during Purohit's interrogation. However, the
confessional statement given to the police is not admissible
Sources said Purohit was conclusively cornered after he was
confronted with telephone records that showed his links with
another accused, retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay. "I am the
mastermind of the blast. I arranged for the RDX and weapons
but I can't understand how the weapons reached Abhinav Bharat
members," sources quoted Purohit as telling police. Abhinav
Bharat is the Hindu extremist group which wanted to avenge the
terror attacks by Islamist groups. Several members of the
group had links with other saffron outfits.
While no anti-terrorism squad (ATS) officer was willing to
comment on the reported confession, ATS spokesperson Dinesh
Agrawala said for the record, "It's not correct."
He may now be cooling his heels in detention, but Purohit was
an accomplished athlete during his college days. He was a
national-level waterpolo player and had also won a state-level
Described as very religious, simple, patriotic but very
sensitive, Purohit hails from a middle class Brahmin family in
Pune. He was advised by his relatives and well-wishers to join
the Army to serve the nation. He made up his mind early and
opted for the National Cadet Corps (NCC) during his schooling.
Purohit studied at Abhinav Vidyalay at Karve Road from class I
till his matriculation. After securing a distinction in his
class X exams, he studied t Brahan Maharashtra College of
Commerce (BMCC), graduating with a commerce degree. He then
did his masters in catering technology from the Personnel
Purohit appeared for the Combined Defence Service Examination
in 1992 and cleared it in the first attempt. "In October 1993,
Purohit began his probation and was appointed second
lieutenant in the Army. In October 1994, he was given his
first posting in Assam. He worked there till January 1995 and
was then transferred to Manipur where he worked till March
1995," said a senior ATS officer.
Purohit was then posted to Nagaland where he was given his
first promotion as captain in 1996 and worked there till 1997.
"From August 1997 to May 1999, Purohit was posted in Pune,"
said an officer. Purohit was transferred to Rajasthan in May
1999 and worked there till November. He was again posted to
Pune in 1999 and worked there for next one year. During this
tenure, he was promoted as a major and transferred to the
Police sources said that between 2000 and January 2005,
Purohit was posted in Jammu and Kashmir and worked in Kupwara,
Anantnag and Badgaon. "He has done a lot of good work in J&K
and at Amarnath. He never disclosed any secrets to anyone,"
said one of his acquaintances in Pune.
Sources said between February and September 2005, Purohit was in
Deolali, near Nashik and that's when he came in touch with Major (retd)
Ramesh Upadhyay, now
behind bars in the blast case. Purohit, a founder-member of
Abhinav Bharat, used the Nashik stint to fraternise with the
extremists in various radical Hindu outfits and to draw them
into Abhinav Bharat. Being in the
Army, Purohit delivered lectures for Abhinav
Bharat and recruited youngsters in the outfit which has around
5,000 members across the country today.
The ATS suspect that Purohit trained youngsters in handling
explosives. "He imparted training in assembling explosive at
Sinhgarh in Pune to the recruits," public prosecutor Ajay
Misar told the court.
Purohit was posted at the Army Education Corps Training
College and Centre at Panchmarhi in Madhya Pradesh in October
2007, where he pursued a course in Arabic. The Army promoted
him to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in April this year. Soon
after his promotion, the police sources said, he attended a
meeting on April 16 at the Bhonsala military school in Nashik
where other Malegaon blast accused were also present.
"Since he is a senior
officer, he could be the source for the RDX,
used in the bomb that went off in the textile town," said an
officer. Police said that it had evidence that Purohit
distributed money to several people through his organisation.
"The financial transactions are through hawala as well," said
an officer who is probing Purohit's hawala links.
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