Colonel Purohit’s Tragic Saga : How India’s Sword-Arm Was Betrayed

This essay will attempt to unravel the basic facts of the conspiracy that not only ruined the life of Colonel Purohit but almost destroyed the nation’s sword-arm.

On Monday, the 21st August, the Supreme Court effectively ended one of the most painful and tragic episodes in independent India’s history, when it granted bail to the Military Intelligence officer, Lt. Colonel P.S. Purohit (PSP) who had been in prison, awaiting trial, for nearly nine years. By effectively drawing down the curtain on a heartrendingly sad chapter, the apex court redeemed (at least partially) its honour and esteem in our nation’s collective psyche.

This writer has been following the entire saga after it unfolded nine years ago in September 2008, when a series of deadly bomb explosions killed a number of people in Malegaon, Maharashtra. UPA-1 had already been in power in Raisina Hill for more than four years and the stench of corruption and woeful mismanagement was widespread. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his cabal, under the control of the Congress Party’s power centre in 10 Janpath, had already come under the scanner for a series of appalling economic/financial scandals. Moreover, India had been repeatedly attacked by Islamic terror groups, either home-grown or controlled by Pakistan’s official agencies. The time was ripe for diversionary moves that would take the spotlight away from 10 Janpath and the Party headquarters at 24 Akbar Road. This was the ambience under which the bizarre, treacherous and perverse notion of “saffron terror” was spawned. What followed for nine years was an abysmal chapter in post-independent India’s history that has few parallels.

This essay will attempt to unravel the basic facts of this horrendous conspiracy that not only ruined the lives of many innocent victims, including a professional Army officer who was only carrying out the duties he was tasked with but also compromised national security gravely and almost destroyed the nation’s sword-arm. It also gave Pakistan and the forces of international Islamic terror enormous leverage and ammunition to attack India relentlessly in every conceivable world forum. I will also draw the historical parallels between the Purohit tragedy and another conspiracy that nearly destroyed a great European nation in the early 20th century.

First, let us look at the basic facts and timeline of the Purohit case. The Malegaon bomb blasts took place on the 29th September 2008, resulting in 6 deaths and a number of casualties. The Mumbai Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) took over the case on the 20th October 2008. This was when the seeds of the conspiracy were sown. Under a high-profile officer, Hemant Karkare, the ATS initially investigated Islamist terrorists who were proliferating in various parts of the country under a benevolent UPA-Congress regime. Soon, the ATS veered on to another track altogether and the sordid treachery started.

There are now credible reports that a former chief of SIMI and a known terrorist Safdar Nagori had been admitted in a taped confession that the Samjhauta Express blasts of February 18, 2007, were carried out by operatives trained in Pakistan. The tape had apparently been deliberately kept under wraps for nine years because the erstwhile UPA government did not want it to come out. To make matters worse, a recent sting investigation by a leading TV channel in June 2017 shows how some Pakistanis arrested by Indian agencies were discharged within 14 days, even though they were key suspects in one of the deadliest terrorist attacks on India till that time. One must remember that the chief power brokers operating in Mumbai and Delhi during this period were people like Sushil Kumar Shinde, Digvijay Singh, P. Chidambaram, Sharad Pawar et al, who were paragons of virtue under the convoluted ethical norms of the Sonia Gandhi – Manmohan Singh Raj. For Karkare to change tack was understandable. He started on the “Hindu-saffron” terror trail and soon Sadhvi Pragya and Col. Purohit were arrested in November 2008.

This is where the top echelons of the Indian Army disgraced themselves. The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) at that time was Deepak Kapoor, a member and beneficiary of the infamous “Line of Succession” doctrine concocted by the UPA-Congress cabal a few years earlier. Therefore, some of the men in olive-green were more than ready to carry out the diktats of the khadi lot, throwing rules, regulations and laws to the wind. Initially, the good Colonel only faced a Court of Inquiry as prescribed under the Army Act 1950 (as amended from time to time) that governs all disciplinary action against Indian Army personnel. Even when the proceedings against PSP were far from reaching the next two stages, namely the summary of evidence and the actual GCM (General Court Martial), he was handed over by the Army to the tender mercies of the ATS gang in Mumbai under Karkare.

In this writer’s considered opinion, this was a gross violation of law and procedure that saw this warrior incarcerated for so many years in civilian jails and subjected to a legal process notorious for slow delivery of justice. Soon, the ATS slapped the stringent provisions of MCOCA against PSP, fellow accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and others. The gory circus of the Congress-UPA government’s delirious and treacherous “saffron terror” conspiracy had started. Soon after the lamentable decision to hand over PSP to civilian custody, I had buttonholed a senior Lt. General at a public meeting and conveyed my opinion to him most forcefully. This person had just hung up his boots and was waiting for a post-retirement appointment in one of the statutory agencies located in Lutyens Delhi that serves as a sinecure for pliant soldiers. I knew that the fellow was mouthing platitudes. The same was true of a number of my other acquaintances in the Armed Forces. I am afraid this was not among the finest moments for many of the Indian Republic’s senior warriors. And sadly, the omerta continues till today.

The Purohit-Sadhvi tragedy preceded the Mumbai attacks by a month. There was an outrageous coincidence here too. The MCOCA charges were levied against PSP and others on the 29th November 2008, when the city was still reeling from the after-effects of the Pakistani terror attack that had started three days earlier on the 26th. There was another irony that played out; Karkare, the man responsible for following the agenda laid down by his political masters, was laid low by adherents of the same Islamic terror from Pakistan that he had sought to whitewash. Even after Kasab had been caught and put up for trial, Digvijay Singh and company still had the gumption to propagate a “saffron angle” to the 26-11 outrage. This was the mother of all conspiracy theories but the Congress-UPA high command still did not summon up the requisite decency and courage to counter the obscenity peddled by the “secularist” gang of Digvijay and his cohorts. The heavens could have wept. This report is one of many that peddled the “saffron terror” fable in the international media.

This is the appropriate stage to spell out the parallels between Indian developments and those that took place in France a hundred and twenty years earlier. I refer to the Dreyfus affair since the two scenarios are eerily similar. In both cases, determined opponents in foreign countries wanted to destabilise the armed forces and to create deep divisions in the social fabrics of the two countries involved – the Indian Republic and the French Republic. Colonel Purohit may not have suffered the same degree of injustice, torture, humiliation and deprivation that Captain Dreyfus did, but this is a bagatelle. A comparison of wrongdoings is a meaningless and futile exercise.

As far as the Indian scenario and the game-plan of Pakistan’s proxies are concerned, it may be useful to look at an analysis that I wrote a few months earlier. This essay also refers to one of my articles published on this portal a few years ago. The Dreyfus case is summarised briefly here. On the 15th October 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus was summoned to the French War Ministry. He was asked to write in his own hand a letter dictated by another officer. Unknown to Dreyfus, this was a letter written by a French spy, found in the dustbin of the German military attaché in Paris and the French were looking for the spy.

Dreyfus, while writing, shivered involuntarily and this was interpreted as a sign of guilt. The unfortunate man was immediately arrested on charges of high treason. Two months later, he was court-martialled and sentenced to life imprisonment in French Guiana in Devil’s Island, their version of our Cellular Jail in the Andamans. The jail where PSP was incarcerated would hardly be better than the one where Dreyfus spent so many years. The primary reason for hounding Dreyfus was that he was a Jew from Alsace, although he had loyally chosen to serve France even after the Germans annexed Alsace-Lorraine in 1871. The French upper classes still retained traces of virulent anti-Semitism that often led them to override their hostility to Germany. The senior officers in the armed forces were especially prone to this disease.

The twists and turns in the Dreyfus case were so complicated that it would be difficult to recount them fully in this essay. In summary, new evidence surfaced in 1896, strongly suggesting that the actual culprit and traitor was another French military officer, Esterhazy. In 1898, he was court-martialled but quickly found not guilty, another travesty of justice. He quickly fled from France.
In response, the legendary French novelist Émile Zola published an open letter titled “J’accuse” (“I accuse”) on the front page of the popular newspaper L’Aurore, which accused the judges of being under the thumb of the military. By the evening, 200,000 copies had been sold. One month later, Zola was sentenced to jail for libel but managed to escape to England.

In 1899, five years after Dreyfus was first imprisoned, his trial was reopened thanks to the efforts of numerous politicians, military figures and intellectuals who had accumulated evidence to refute the false case against Dreyfus. But to everyone’s surprise, instead of releasing Dreyfus, the court found him guilty once more and sentenced him to ten years in prison, though it had the decency to withdraw his life sentence. It was not until the French President granted amnesty to Dreyfus that the tables turned. In 1903 after his rehabilitation, Dreyfus sent a letter to the “Garde des Sceaux” (Lord Chancellor) demanding a revision of his trial. Finally, in 1906, the court recognized Dreyfus’s innocence and annulled the false verdict rendered against him earlier.

As readers will see, the unfortunate experiences of Colonel Purohit and Captain Dreyfus clearly run in parallel, even though they are separated by so many decades. Both were victims of social forces that affected their military services and governed their socio-political milieu. In France, it was the Church and residual anti-Semitism that even condoned anti-national activity. In India, it is the perverse “secularism” and visceral anti-Indic sentiments of the ruling Congress oligarchs.
Dreyfus was fully rehabilitated in his beloved French Army. Colonel Purohit, one fervently hopes, is on his way to getting back his life and career in the Indian Army, an institution that he devoted his life to.

In the incident more than 110 years earlier that I have recounted above, the guilty were never punished. One fervently hopes this will not be the case in Colonel Purohit’s saga. There are a lot of reprobates and vermin out there who have to be punished for their crimes. Somehow our national and societal track-record on this score does not inspire much confidence and optimism in me, though I would love to be proved wrong. Finally, will we witness an Indian version of Emile Zola who will use his / her pen to correct a grievous wrong and to render full justice to an indomitable warrior?

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. IndiaFacts does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

  • Nikhil

    What a dangerous entity Congress is for India! Just for some votes, they were using Army as a sacrificial lamb. This is the reason I would never vote for Congress no matter how good a candidate is. They simply should be stopped from returning to power. Sadly, the present NaMo government is not an inspiring one either.

  • Cyrus Katrak

    With the greatest of dismay, I have seen an Indian TV channel (NDTV) where the anchor and some commentators have criticised the Army’s action in welcoming the gallant Colonel Purohit and taking him with proper respect and protocol to an Army establishment after his release from confinement. The Army, after all, is only redeeming itself partially for its grave lapse 9 years earlier in illegally handing over Colonel Purohit to the custody of the corrupt and vile civil police.

    Isn’t NDTV in trouble for its grave financial offences? Accused of extremely serious crimes like money-laundering etc? Despite all this, how do these characters have the gumption to carry on with their nefarious agenda? The English media in the old country is clearly riddled with corruption and fraud.

  • Sadanand Bhat

    Gone are the days of Tilak and his swarajya magazine,indian Journalism is still in kaliyuga times where the likes of Jaichand,MirJafir flourish with traitors names changed to RajDip, barka,sagarika, rajdan etc etc. Forget of finding any Emile Zola in India there is no integrity left in the high profile Indians not just in Journalism it has creeped into armed forces as mentioned in the article and in business (where they want to sell out to the first chinese bidder) no national pride exist for these morons they are the modern day sepoys of the Anti Indian forces of missionaries & islamists .

    • Mohinder Rawat

      What a confused post!. While you start off commendably well, you lose track of your thought process. While there is a lot of doom and gloom in Indian society and civilisation these days,you should realise that indomitable writers and activists like this author are showing us the right path and carrying the torch of probity and ethics. Try and take up their torch instead of moaning and whining.

  • Ashish Bardhan

    Most of the other commentators have already echoed my thoughts. However, let me express them in any case. As an analytical essay as well as a piece of poetic prose, this sublime article elevates the reader as well as deeply grieves him / her.

    The horrors inflicted on the courageous and dedicated soldier can be imagined; the injustice is explained with meticulous precision. The historical parallel and backdrop set out by the author enlarges the scope of the debate and enlightens us at the same time. Thank you INDIAFACTS and thank you Jay Bhattacharjee.

  • Nitin Bhandarkar

    What a landmark article! I hope the good Colonel Purohit gets to read it soon, as he recovers from his tragic ordeal. It will definitely bolster his morale and spirits. Thank you, Jay Bhattacharjee, Sir.

  • Infinite Wisdom

    Why have the Jihadi, Marxist “sickular” Congi people been able to do so much damage, equal to what Aurangzeb did, to Hindus? Because Hindus are stupid. They sit quietly and take it. We need the spirit of Shivaji and Rana Pratap. We should declare fatawa against Sonia, Pappy, Doggie Singh and others.

    • Nitin Bhandarkar

      I agree with you completely. However, I have one caveat : if by “Doggie Singh”, you are referring to that unmentionably vile character, Digvijay Singh, please be kind enough to call him Piggy Singh, Ratty Singh, anything but “Doggie Singh”. Dogs are the best friends of humans – totally noble creatures. To categorise this fellow as a canine, would be most unfair and a travesty of justice. I am serious, Sir.

      • Infinite Wisdom

        Good point, Sir. From now on, it will be Piggy Singh.

  • deepakadyanthaya

    What has happened has happened. It is time now for justice. Get everyone of those bastards who had a hand in it and skin them alive. Amend the law, make new laws if necessary, turn the world upside down but get them all while they are still alive.

  • Mohan Ramaswamy

    Heart-rending, insightful, thought-provoking and informative. This essay opens new vistas for its readers. Thank you, Jay Bhattacharjee, Sir.

    If the iconic Emile Zola had been present today, he would most certainly have felicitated you.

  • Samarendra Sharma

    Once more, this favourite author of mine has penned an exquisite and hard-hitting article that will always stay in my archives. This essay touches our minds and hearts like very few in recent times. The indomitable and brave Colonel Purohit will not find a better and more dedicated comrade than Jay Bhattacharjee.

    Yes indeed, we do have an Indian version of Emile Zola now, as some other commentators have written earlier.

  • P M Ravindran

    Very sorry, very angry. Of course the rot was set on us through what we are told to revere as our Constitution. But if Modi and our courts fails to sent the italian barmaid and her hatchet men to the gallows now, one can only await the Doomsday! And thanks to the author, who has in his inimitable style, nailed the criminals right here!

  • disqus_hbQKIQddHL

    Whole CONgress is Under ISI control because of their Havala and Swiss accounts have to go to Dawood/Terroist controlled network. AP is for project Dar-ul-Islam Hind and Mughalistan project. Sonia is Vatican stooge Planted to convert India into xtian nation All CONgi’s Including Sonia main main interest is Looting India. Sonia is Ignorant of running party n Govt but AP is fooling her so that All home crusade can be done only this way(Muslim Vote bank alibi) but his agenda of Dar-ul-Islam is hidden only known to ISI and its Muslim links in CONgress & Govt. Hindu CONG leaders are happy to loot India not aware or coerced(have lot of skeletons in cupboard) to carry out ISI plan. One of ISI plan is Saffron terrorism other is soft on Kashmir and Terrorist Maoist. Most of CONg Muslims leaders (Hamid Ansari ex-VP recently been exposed) are hardcore Muslims their allegiance is to Islam and Khilafath so it suits them and ISI is using it for their agenda. All of CONg Muslim leaders and Indian Celebrities show soft corner for Pakistan, They either have relatives there or other links( apart from Islam and Havala strings)
    So it is Majority of Indians are hoodwinked on Progress Religous tolerance Secularism and they have made us forget our true self of indian Heritage by wrongly interpreting History in educations. Hindus vote by Gandhi name and money bribed. Pawar is buddy of Dawood his growth only because of patronage of Pawar as CM of Maharastra. All have their control by ISI. story is more complex including Nehru dyNSATY heritage.

  • Ramya

    Thank you so much for this essay.It clearly proves how that Diggy and Congress is bad and evil.

  • Latika Joshi

    I was devastated to read this essay. At the same time, I am deeply indebted to the author for this brilliant and immaculately-researched essay. Most of us who live far away from the motherland are not fully aware of the details of this travesty of justice.

    I do hope the brave Colonel will soon reach the end of his appalling ordeal. My deepest respects to this indomitable soldier.

  • Raj Sharma

    Thanks Jay. You deserve deep appreciation of the nation to take up cudgels for justice to a serving soldier. Gen Dhruv Katoch too has taken up the issue on a parallel media. I paste my comments on that essay which are as much relevant to your esteemed piece.
    “To be brief on this part, you deserve all the appreciation from the Uniformed Community for spotlighting the case so well. May I add some thoughts, whatever be their worth? More than half a century ago we were taught in the Indian Military Academy that one of the Ten Principles of our profession was ‘CONCENTRATION of FORCE’. Let us concentrate argument on our own leadership in uniform to unwind the case and pend for the time being our attention against other perpetrators, if any. Did those who were mandated to protect a junior colleague upheld/failed to uphold the ethos of their Commissioned Service? They need to be probed first and if found guilty need to be exposed to the Might of the Law. Let them come out with their part of the story/ rationale/excuse or whatever. Let then the conscience of this nation define action/punishment for their bosses. If this does not happen in a transparent manner and as early as it may, the senior echelons of military leadership will find difficult to retain the confidence of the juniors, who are the real salt of the Armed Forces.”

  • Ananth Sethuraman

    Thank you for this article.

  • Pradip Tripathi

    This will rank as one of the most seminal essays on this sad and tragic episode. We already have an Indian Emile Zola to take up cudgels against monumental injustices. Thank you, Sir, for penning this piece.

    • Cyrus Katrak

      I totally endorse your thoughts. The last line in the essay by the author has already been answered by you. Thank you my friend. It is indeed Jay Bhattacharjee who is the contemporary Indian equivalent of Emile Zola.

  • Maj Gen (Retd) Ashok Coomar

    A thoroughly exhaustive prelude to how and why was Colonel Purohit was trapped into this imaginary “Hindu terror” by UPA government nearly a decade ago following Mumbai carnage by Ajmal Kasab gang sent by Pakistani ISI and their minions. A befitting exposure of a anti-national conspiracy by the then Government of India!

    More startling facts are likely tumble-out of the as the trial proceeds in an open court. Let us hope that unlike the Dreyfus affair the conspirators will not escape unscathed.