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Namrata Biji Ahuja
Namrata Biji Ahuja


He was doing his duty

36-Purohit All smiles: Purohit and his wife, Aparna, before his arrest.

Interview/ Aparna Purohit

The bail to Lt Col Purohit came as a respite for his family, especially his wife, Aparna, a homoeopathic doctor. In an interview with THE WEEK, Aparna, 42, talks about wanting a normal life for her family. Excerpts:

Were you hopeful of Purohit getting bail after eight years and eight months?
I had no idea that my husband would get bail. We have struggled quite a bit to even get the Army papers out. In a court of inquiry in 2009, a lot of positive statements were made. All the papers were released a year and a half ago. A lot of my husband's seniors had deposed and shared what he had reported to them. Even the Supreme Court has said that prima facie it is seen that whatever he had done was reported to his seniors. All his actions were in the line of duty.

Was there any delay on the part of the Army?
No, the Army did not delay anything.

Your husband has been in a difficult job (serving as a military intelligence officer). Do you see any political motive or people within the system turning against him?

All this is actually part of the process that is going on in the sessions court. So, I don't think I should be commenting on it. Whatever it is, it will come out in the sessions court.

Do you believe Purohit is innocent?
Absolutely. I stood by him because I know he is innocent.

The Supreme Court has talked about discrepancies in probes conducted by the Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad and the National Investigation Agency.
The court has acknowledged the fact that the RDX that was alleged to have been supplied by him and the swabs of RDX found had all been planted by the ATS.

Do you expect penal action against the ATS officials?
I am not even thinking on those lines. I just want him to be free of all this. After all these years, you come to a point when you forget everything else. The family is so important and your children need you. They need a comfortable life which we have not been able to provide. That is the most guilty part of our lives.

With the change of governments (UPA to NDA), has there been any difference in approach?

I don't think so. This has been one allegation that has been surfacing. In fact, there was a petition in Supreme Court on what the earlier public prosecutor (Rohini Saliyan) had said about the government asking the NIA to go slow in the matter.

But, if you look at the facts of the case, the NIA came into the picture in 2011. At that time, the NDA was not in power. This government came only in 2014. So , from 2011 to 2014 , the NIA was doing the same thing and later from 2014 to 2017, it was still doing the same thing. So, what difference does it make? The agency took up the case in April 2011 but it took five long years to file just a charge-sheet. It has nothing to do with the government in power. It is just a legal process which has taken time.

Political allegations are flying thick and fast...

What is politics? They keep on alleging something. It is their work. It is how they are going to earn their bread and butter. So, let them all do it. Our focus is just to get him out of the case.

How many times have you met Purohit in jail?

I generally go and meet him once in 10 days and I have to travel from Pune to Mumbai. The children get to meet him whenever their holidays and his court hearing coincide.

How has Purohit taken it? Does he ever complain to you?

He has never cribbed or complained to me. I think initially he was disturbed, but then we learnt to live with a lot of things. But with every bail application we have been hopeful. Thank God that he will be out finally.

What was the worst moment in his life?

The living condition in jails is pathetic. He says nothing matters to him since he has lived in worst conditions having served in Jammu and Kashmir for five years at a stretch and earlier in Nagaland. But every day in the evening, when your time out is over and they shut you inside the cell after 6pm, that is what kills. That is what he cannot bear.

How was Purohit's life in custody?
He was subjected to gruesome third-degree torture. He was beaten up and tied upside down. His feet were tied and pulled apart. All this was done to get a confession out of him. When he was produced in court he could not even walk properly. Later, [on our request to the court] he was taken to the naval hospital in Colaba and a complete examination was done. The doctors said two nerves in his hands were severed. When he was serving in Jammu and Kashmir, he had suffered an injury so his knee had to be reconstructed. Those ligaments were torn again. His hands have lost sensitivity in some areas.

Did you get any response to your complaints about the police torture?

There was no response from any quarter. The courts had shifted him to judicial custody but by that time the damage was already done.

How was his cell?

There is a light in the cell but no fan. The food and the toilet facilities are unimaginable. The jails are full and 70 per cent of jail inmates are under-trials. In fact, when we see the condition, we feel at least we are educated and know what to do and what not to do. What about others? The wives of some other inmates who come to meet them don't even know what case they are implicated in. They are not even able to furnish their identity cards properly and bring their children. It is so pathetic. One day, I would like to do something about it. At times I feel I want to forget everything but those thoughts keep coming back to you.

Purohit has been writing letters to the prime minister, defence minister and home minister. Did he get any response?

Ever since he came out of the initial shock, he has been writing to everybody who has been in office since 2009. From the President, prime minister, to army chief, defence and home ministers, one or two letters have gone to each one of them. But we never got a response. I don't know what we were expecting, may be it was for our mental satisfaction.

Has the Army been supportive?

Definitely. There has not been a single officer who has not spoken to me properly. We have always got their support.

How long have you been married? How about your children?

Ours was a love marriage. We lived in the same colony. He had just joined the Army and I was in first year of college. I have known him since then. We have been married for 18 years now and have two sons. The elder one is in first year of college and the younger one is in class seven. Both are in Pune. My elder son is very mature. In fact, he is completely involved in the case and helps me out with some drafting, too. But I have been having problems with the younger son because he was too small. Raising him has been tough.

Are you working now?

I am a doctor but had to shut down my clinic because I keep travelling for the case. I don't practise now but at the same time I have friends whom I can work with.

What do you plan to do next?
I am going to be out of this now. Whatever responsibility of the case is there, he will take it up and fight for himself.

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