On this day, thirteen years back, a village in Bansghar in Purulia district of West Bengal was air-dropped with 300 assault rifles and million rounds of ammunition, in what is now known as Purulia Arms Drop Case(PADC). The delivery to intended recipients was bungled as the consignment landed miles off the target & the villagers notified the local police station at Jhalda . The plane that (mis)delivered the cargo was a Russian made Antonov aircraft purchased from the Latvian Airlines. It flew onward to Phuket & on its return flight to Karachi via Chennai , three days later, was asked to land in Mumbai airport by the Airport Traffic Controller for deviating from the scheduled route. 6 people were arrested. They included 5 Latvian crew members & 1 British arms dealer , Peter Bleach. Another person a Danish national named Niels Nielson alias Kim Davey managed to escape. Subsequent trials led to conviction of all the six including Peter Bleach by the City Sessions court, Kolkata . However, international diplomacy in later period by Russia & Britain led to ultimate remission of the sentences and freedom from Indian jails for all the six.
During the trial of the case, it was revealed that Peter Bleach had kept the Ministry of Defence in Britain informed about the illicit nature of the deal when Bleach learned that the intended recipient was not the Indian Government but 'Ananda Margis', a violent Hindu religious sect that propagates the Progressive Utilisation Theory (PROUT) of its founder Late P.R.Sarkar & whose headquarters are based in Banshgarh. The secret services of Britain had passed on the intelligence to the Indian government almost a fortnight before the drop. But none seemed to have acted .
The recent mayhem in Mumbai on 26/11 also hints of a warning, tip-off, interception given to the Intelligence officials & Coast Guard but unfortunately they were of no avail as 10 gunmen with assault rifles put a permanent scar on the psyche of Mumbai & India as they mowed down 175 people.
Thirteen years have elapsed since PADC and there are still unanswered questions .
1. Where is Nielson alias Kim Davey? How did he escape from the aircraft? Nielson was alleged to be a monk of the Ananda Margis and was personally supervising the operation from financing to delivery. What is the Indian Government doing to get him back?
2. Why did the Indian Government decide not to act on the intelligence provided by Britain?
3. The contract , according to Bleach, was for delivery of 2500 assault rifles. Only 300 were recovered. Where are the balance 2200 rifles? If 10 assault rifles on 26/11 can create unimaginable havoc, just imagine what would 2000 rifles manage to do ?
As new & tough laws get enacted by the government, one wonders the efficacy of such laws when there is often a deliberate neglect of crucial intelligence of such crimes.Both in Purulia & Mumbai.
The tragic events of 26/11 in Mumbai should at least push the lawmakers to make intelligence officials and/or their relevant political master(s) accountable for such serious lapses. Only the highest sentence under the Indian Penal Code should be enacted towards these people otherwise the situation will remain the same , tough laws notwithstanding.
Photo Source : Gianluca Giardina on Flickr