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“I have been under imprisonment for the last five years and seven months. The case is yet to come up for hearing and hence far away from any conclusion… The entire case against me is fabricated and supported by stage-managed and planted evidences”….

There are millions of prisoners who claim their innocence. But this one is no ordinary man: he is Lt. Col. Srikant Purohit, arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) over 5 years ago in connection with the Malegaon blasts which took place on 29th September, 2008.

Lt. Col. Purohit, was lured to Mumbai and illegally handed over to Maharashtra ATS by Col. RK Shrivastav, an Army Intelligence officer, using forged movement orders. According to a Statutory Complaint with the Army, during his illegal detention by Maharashtra ATS, Purohit was repeatedly slapped and tortured by Shrivastav, who punched him in the face and kicked him brutally with his steel-studded shoes, while Purohit was lying on the floor. Later Shrivastav, twisted Purohit’s nipples and testicles with pincers, to make him confess a crime that Purohit denied having done.

After the torture, Purohit was medically examined at Navy’s Command Hospital, INS Asvini, showing, among other injuries, that nerves of both his hands were damaged, his right knee, where he had undergone a reconstruction, had been damaged again, irony being that he got this inury during his military service in Kashmir. His wife did file a complaint with the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission, who did issue a show-cause notice to the Mumbai Police Commissioner, but no action has ever taken against Maharashtra ATS or Shrivastav. There must be some honest Human Right NGO’s in India who could file a case of torture against Shrivastav and Maharashtra ATS who openly flouted Geneva prisoner’s’ convention?

Interestingly, in an Army Court of Inquiry, two Army Intelligence officers, Maj. Khanjode and Sub. Pawar, have stated under oath that they had caught red-handed a Maharashtra ATS officer, API Bagade, planting RDX at the house of one of the Malegaon blasts co-accused Sudhakar Chaturvedi.

The main Malegaon blasts witness, Cap. Nitin Joshi, has also given a complaint in the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission that he was tortured by Maharashtra ATS and a statement was extracted from him against Purohit.

Purohit has made several appeals for an early hearing for himself as he has been in jail as an under trial for over 5 years without bail and despite the National Investigation Agency (NIA) taking over the case in April 2011, no charge sheet has been filed by it.

In a recent letter to PM Narendra Modi, Purohit alleges that the “Maharashtra ATS created terrorists out of innocent and patriotic lot of sons of soil for the reasons best known to them and their policy matters”.

Why this frenzied fixation against Purohit? Remember the Wikileaks cables, where Rahul Gandhi tells the American ambassador that Hindu terrorism was more dangerous than Islamic terrorism: “The bigger threat may be the growth of radicalized Hindu groups, which create religious tensions and political confrontations with the Muslim community”. It seems then that Rahul and his mother wanted to make an example of Purohit and that direct orders were issued from 10 Janpath to get a confession out of him and Sadhvi Pragya at any cost. Hence the torture.

But in truth, there is nothing such thing as Hindu terrorism. Did you know for instance that Hindus never militarily invaded another country to impose their own religion, as Islam or Christianity did? On the contrary, Hinduism went out peacefully towards the East – the Cambodian Angkor Wat temples, one of the seven wonders of the world, are witness to that; and towards the West, where hatha yoga, meditation and pranayama, thanks to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, have become mainstream there. Did you also know that most of the persecuted communities on this planet have found refuge in India throughout the ages: from the Christian Syrians in the first century, to the Parsis, the Jews – India is the only country in the world where they were never persecuted – to the Tibetans today? Hinduism is also the only spirituality in the world that accepts that God or the Divine may manifest Himself or Herself at different periods of our Human history, under different names, using different scriptures. Christianity and Islam still believe in only one God – theirs. This has allowed Hindus to be extremely tolerant and accept the ‘Other’, a Knowledge which is indispensable to humanity if it wants to survive the 21st century.

There is a grave injustice here: NIA filed a supplementary charge-sheet at lightning speed in the Malegaon 2006 blasts case, where all the accused were Muslims. They subsequently got bail, as NIA did not object & later were discharged. However when it comes to Malegaon 2008 blasts case investigation, where all the accused are Hindus, the supplementary charge-sheet has not been filed even after more than 3 years. The entire effort of the NIA seems to be to keep them languishing in Jail and propping-up the saffron-terror sham- at any cost!

Francois Gautier

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