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” Security ” Special Aero India 2017 Edition 
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SOURCE:  TNN

Speaking out in public for the first time, a su perior officer posted in the Army counter -intelligence unit in Pune in 2005, Col S S Raikar, spoke out in defence of suspended Lt Col Prasad Purohit, accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, and said he was “innocent.” Speaking with Times Now, Raikar, who is now retired, said it would have been impossible and “sheer stupidity” for Col Purohit to pilfer RDX from the Army.

When asked by Times Now, “You have no doubts about his innocence?” he replied, “Of course no. Capital no. He is innocent.” Col S S Raikar, a retired Army officer senior to Col Prasad Purohit told Times Now on Thursday that the army man accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast was innocent.

“Supplying RDX to Abhinav Bharat to conduct the terror attacks, especially the Malegaon 2008 terror attack. How do you respond to that? the channel asked Raikar. To this he said, “Sheer stupidity. Because when operations take place in insurgency they are not conducted by military intelligence. Military intelligence gives input. Operations are conducted by the fighting formations, the infantry units or counter-insurgency units like the RR.”

TOI was the first to report the submissions made by Purohit’s counsel Shrikant Shivade in February this year as he argued for his bail that military records clearly show that Purohit could not have removed any RDX even after a raid because of elaborate operations in place.

Shivade, relying on military records, said the records show no explosives, including RDX, were missing from seizures made during the tenure of Lt Col Purohit in Kashmir in 2002-04. Shivade said the “military record was significant” as one of the most important charges against Purohit is that he used RDX retained from a seizure made in Jammu & Kashmir in 2002-03 to carry out the 2008 Malegaon blast in which he is an accused; the RDX was allegedly also used in the Samjhauta blast, in which he is not an accused.

Significantly, Shivade had stressed on the fact that Purohit was responsible only for “generating intelligence” and the actual seizure is done by the active unit. Shivade was arguing for Purohit’s bail, after the special trial court had rejected it last year.His arguments before a bench of Justices Ranjit More and Shalini Phansalkar Joshicentered on trying to discredit the case built up by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) against Purohit on RDX and other charges.

The hearing was concluded in the HC on February 17 and the order is now awaited.The NIA court had, while rejecting his bail plea, observed that all military documents and any other evidence in his support would be considered during trial and not at the pre-trial stage. The case is at a stage where the charges are yet to be framed to enable start of trial. Purohit has been detained for more than eight years without trial and ATS “framed” him by “planting RDX”, said Shivade, adding that once the explosives charge lacks evidence, bail cannot be denied.

The special trial court judge also has wrongly in voked provisions of an amended Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) retrospectively, to deny him bail, Purohit’s argument goes.Shivade also said that the NIA now handling the case differed with the ATS. The blast had killed six and injured 100 in Malegaon.

The chargesheet filed last year by NIA had said that Purohit flouted Army service rules by forming an outfit called Abhinav Bharat in 2006. Purohit said he was only acting in discharge of his duty to gather more intelligence.

Shivade had cited and submitted a number of letters of appreciation of his “exceptional meritorious record” from Purohit’s superiors in the Army and even the Nashik police chief, whose jurisdiction covered Malegaon for his valuable work as an Army intelligence officer. “It is most disheartening for Purohit to be branded a terrorist when he himself had successfully eliminated foreign terrorists and (was) doing (the) tough work of evidence against Jihadi activities as an intelligence officer.” Col Raikar also said Purohit had a very good record. “Prasad came in 2005 from J&K. I don’t remember the exact date. He was carrying with him quite a reputation. So we were also looking forward to a very fruitful tenure. But in a positive sense because for a military intelligence fruitful tenure means something happening and we are reporting or preventing something so I don’t want anything to happen of that sort…So that is how I got to know Prasad Purohit. So being a unit HQ he used to come to Pune to meet commanding officer. Also he is from Pune. So many times as he used to come on leave, he used to come to visit unit and we used to have long chats. And that is how I know him. That acquaintance is continuing even now. He may be in jail but I am still in touch with his wife,” he said.
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