Pune: After the bail order of Lt Col Prasad Purohit was passed, many in Military Intelligence celebrated and congratulated each other. Now, however, new messages are doing the rounds among army officers - condemning the role of Col RK Shrivastav, an intelligence corps officer for his alleged role in framing and torturing Purohit in the Malegaon blast case.
The messages appeal for exposure of Shrivastav's alleged role. However, there is a mixed reaction among Army personnel regarding the messages.
When contacted, Shrivastav refused to comment on the issue and disconnected the line.
Shrivastav's name was mentioned by Purohit in his statutory complaint to his then Commandant AEC School & Centre, Panchmarhi. He stated that Shrivastav initiated physical torture on him.
The message which has gone viral via WhatsApp among Army officers over the period of last one week, says, “RK Shrivastav, SM is an Int Corps officer of 1984/85 seniority, instrumental in the illegal arrest of Lt Col Purohit and his subsequent torture at the hands of ATS Mumbai. In Purohit's own words, the ATS treated him with respect due to a serving army officer till Col Srivastav started slapping him and hitting him during interrogation!... All with the aim of making Purohit confess to his role in Malegaon Blasts."
The message then raises questions on Shrivastav's credibilities and that he carries a 'reputation for illegal actions in framing other officers'. It ends with a demand for him being probed properly and says, "Questions from the environment about what made this officer harm his own colleague and brother officer from Int Corps, but also let down the Org and the Army by indulging in blatant illegalities, will not only help clear the air on this vexed case but also better transparency in such cases, in future. We must name and shame such officers like Col RK Shrivastav.” .
An officer of the rank of Major with Signal Corps, currently posted with Northern Command, on condition of anonymity, said, “These messages spread like fire among army officers. I received this message a week back and everybody is sharing it with each other."
Another Colonel-rank officer serving with Infantry and currently posted in North-east said, “I feel it’s wrong on our part to forward or circulate opinion without knowing facts. People have a different opinion regarding these messages. People are sympathetic towards Purohit, but whether they are against Shrivastav, we don’t know. Even if they are against him, it makes hardly a difference because he is retired now."
Both the serving officers, however, said that the message has definitely been circulated by some retired officer of the Indian Army.
- Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Retd), a leading defence expert, said, "The Purohit affair, since it came into the public domain, is both messy and very opaque. More recent developments after the release of Purohit point to a very disturbing pattern of dilution of institutional integrity - both as regards the army and the central intelligence agencies. I hope the matter is dealt with expeditiously and away from the public gaze and media debates and doesn’t become fodder for political one-upmanship.”
- Lt Gen DB Shekatkar (Retd) said, "There is no doubt that there is sympathy towards Lt Col Purohit in the Army but such kind of messages should not get circulated. I believe that he has not done anything for his personal interest but did everything in the larger interest of the nation." He added, “We should also be wary to create an environment in which soldiers should not think that nobody cares about their sacrifices, they should not be put in jail without any reasons or just for the heck of it."