Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, has told a Mumbai court that he was tortured by officers of the Anti-Terrorist Squad and forced to take the blame for the explosion, reported Bar and Bench on Thursday.

Six people were killed and 100 injured when an explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon in northern Maharashtra on September 29, 2008.

Purohit was arrested later that year. Besides him, six other persons are facing trial in the case, including Bharatiya Janata Party MP Pragya Thakur. The other accused are – Major Ramesh Upadhyay, Sameer Kulkarni, Ajay Rahirkar, Sudhakar Dwivedi and Sudhakar Chaturvedi.

They have been charged under sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Indian Penal Code, including murder.

In a 23-page statement submitted to the special court for the National Investigation Agency on Wednesday, Purohit claimed that he was forced to implicate Hindutva organisations such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, as well as BJP leaderAdityanath, who was an MP at the time. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is the parent organisation of the BJP.

The Army officer also alleged that he was forcefully detained in a bungalow in Maharashtra’s Khandala on October 29, 2008. He said that he was questioned by Hemant Karkare, who was heading the Anti-Terrorist Squad at the time, Param Bir Singh, who was the joint commissioner of the squad at the time, inspector Gajanan Kabdule and one Kamble of the State Investigation Department.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad was investigating the case before the National Investigation Agency took over the investigation.

“Karkare, Param Bir Singh and Colonel RK Shrivastav [then director of Military Intelligence from Army Headquarters] continued insisting that I should own up the Malegaon bomb blast and that I should name senior right-wing leaders of RSS and VHP, Yogi Adityanath, the then member of Parliament from Uttar Pradesh,” claimed Purohit. “This torture continued incessantly till 3rd November 2008.”

He alleged that the case was fabricated to suit the political requirements of the government in the state and at the Centre at the time, Bar and Bench reported. In 2008, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was in power at the Centre. Maharashtra had a coaling government comprising Congress and Nationalist Congress Party.

Purohit also alleged in the statement that the Anti-Terrorist Squad had planted explosive material in a co-accused’s house. He claimed that the witnesses who deposed in court were also tortured.

“Each and every part of the claimed investigation conducted by these officers is a reflection of their professional and moral corruption and criminal mindset,” he said.

Purohit said that the case against him is a “concocted lie” and this was made clear by “witnesses turning hostile and bringing out the facts that they were tortured, threatened, detained, at times at gunpoint to extract pre-fabricated statements as required by the ATS and or their political masters”.

“In this shameful act, unfortunately, they have compromised the national security, source and informant network assisting the central investigating agencies, demoralized intelligence officers and have permanently harmed the Indian Army’s reputation,” read his statement, according to Bar and Bench.