Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, the main accused in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast case, may be passing his days in the high-security Nashik jail, but it is an everyday battle for his wife, Aparna, who has kept from her two sons, the news of their father’s arrest since the last 11 months. With no newspapers, television and Internet, the Purohit household is a different world. A homeopath by profession, Aparna also weaves stories about their father being away on a clandestine mission.
“I have told them that their father is on an assignment for the country and that he cannot contact us. While for them, it is a matter of great excitement that their dad is on a secret mission, I have to come up with a lie everyday,” Aparna, who regularly attends her husband’s court hearings, told PTI. Without naming her children, she says: “The elder one keeps asking why his father has not called even once? Or why I keep travelling out of Pune so often? I told him something went wrong with the mission and that his father was being blamed for some mistake he did not commit, for which, I have to go and assist him.”
Lt. Col. Purohit has been accused by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) of having played a key role in the conspiracy to carry out blasts in Muslim-dominated areas.
He has also been named as one of the founders of Abhinav Bharat (a Hindu nationalist organisation based in Maharashtra) and the one who sourced the RDX used in the blast from the Army. He was also accused of having been closely associated with other accused in the case — Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Dayanand Pandey and retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay.
Hell broke loose for Aparna after his arrest. She had to give up a flourishing practice in Panchmari, Madhya Pradesh and shift to Pune. She travels to Mumbai almost every week, ensuring she doesn’t miss a single court date. While the children may see the restrictions as somewhat odd, Aparna feels it is a way of keeping them from discovering the truth. “We try inculcating values into our children, and here, I lie to them everyday. I don’t know what will be more shocking — knowing that their father is going through a trial and is in jail, or that their mother has been lying to them all this while.” Asked how she manages to make ends meet, she says: “I still get my husband’s salary and I have some savings of my own.”
She feels bitter towards the Army, as she feels it ditched her husband. “He has spent 15 years toiling for the nation and when he needed support from the Army the most, they disowned him. He was not even told where he was being taken. They cheated him and took him to Mumbai after telling him he was being taken to Delhi first to meet his seniors.”
“The dropping of the MCOCA [Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act] charges from the case was a blessing. Both Prasad and myself have been through different phases since his arrest. First it was shock, then accepting the reality and now, rationally thinking of a way out of the problem,” she says as she readies herself to face yet another day.