A witness in the 2008 Malegaon blast trial – a former army officer who had mentioned in earlier statements to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit’s links to right wing outfit Abhinav Bharat, was declared hostile on Wednesday.
The NIA’s special public prosecutor Avinash Rasal said that during his testimony on Wednesday, he denied his statement was ever recorded. Similarly, he said the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) that had investigated the case before the NIA took over had made him give his statement under threat.
Witness: ATS officer threatened me with dire consequences
The witness had filed a complaint with the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission earlier and alleged that ATS officials had threatened him with dire consequences if he did not give his statement as per their instructions and had also similarly compelled him to give a similar statement before a magistrate. His statement to the NIA also mentions this complaint to the human rights body.
In his ATS statement, he had said that Purohit had confessed to him about planning and conspiring for the Malegaon blast with accomplices. In his statement to the NIA, the witness stated that Purohit had told him about Abhinav Bharat and asked him to work with him. The witness had disclosed that Purohit was the organisation’s president and co-accused Ajay Rahirkar, its finance head.
Lecture in Pune college by hiding identity
He had also mentioned an incident in a Pune college where Purohit had given a lecture by hiding his identity and introducing himself as ‘Shriyank Randive’ and by wearing a fake beard and goggles. In September 2008, according to the statement, he had attended a meeting in Nashik of the organisation in which Purohit, Major Ramesh Upadhyay and Sudhakar Chaturvedi were present and discussions were held on participation of the organisation in politics among other aspects.
The statement had also mentioned a training camp conducted in MP by Purohit in October 2008 where youths were given physical training. Here, he said he was introduced to some persons now accused in the blast case. He also said that when he was going somewhere with Purohit in October 2008, he heard Purohit get a call on the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur.
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