Terrorism

Fighting War against Terror — Purulia style

Six persons, serving life imprisonment for waging war against the nation were released by the most patriotic party!

Everyone claimed that they wanted to fight war against terror. Not only Bush and Blair but also Advani and Manmohan. However, deep investigation confirms that this is a slogan for political gains or is a strong instrument for persecution. Many have languished in jails in spite of their innocence; many more are still suffering inhuman atrocities. And those who are always seen championing the cause of war against terror had been instrumental in releasing persons accused of waging war against the nation.

Bhaskar Ghose, a former secretary in Govt of India, puts it succinctly: “In India, the recipients of the kind consideration (President’s Pardon)... have been almost invariably white” (Telegraph, 18 Feb. 2004 reacting to Peter Bleach’s release on Presidential Pardon). And who pleaded Bleach’s case? Tony Blair because Bleach was British and belonged to Blair’s constituency.


Antonov cargo plane similar to the one used in Purulia arms drop; Kim P Davy key player; Pilot Peter Bleach; Two of the Latvian crew pardoned


Most patriotic Advaniji (then Dy PM) assured Blair that all hurdles will be removed. He asked Arun Jaitley (Law Minister) to ensure that all hurdles were removed. After Advani’s meeting with British home secretary David Blunkett, President’s Pardon, which was earlier rejected, was granted to Bleach and he was released in 2004 when the BJP was in power.

It is not a solitary case of a white. Prior to this, five crew members of Latavia on the specific request of  the then Russian President Vladimir Putin, were released from Kolkata jail. Again, it was BJP in power. So, six persons, serving life imprisonment for waging war against the nation were released by the most patriotic party! These are the same persons who are shouting from roof tops for Afzal Guru’s execution!

Now let us come to the breakthrough that CBI has made in its fifteenth year of war against terrorist Kim P Davy, the mastermind, who shall be extradited by Danish authorities. A remarkable achievement indeed.

But don’t be jubilant. On 8 Oct. 2008, extradition was almost finalised on “sovereign assurance” to Danish authorities on certain conditions. Condition no. 1: waiving of death penalty; condition no. 2: Davy would be sent back to Denmark within three weeks, and if found guilty, he would serve his punishment in Denmark. What a pity for Abu Salem! The Portugal authorities were not so considerate because Portugal was fighting a war against terror and Abu Salem was not a “white.” Moreover, being a Muslim he was a confirmed terrorist. We have two types of law – one for Davy, another for Abu Salem.

Out of 19 accused in the Purulia case only six could be tried (and later released). Out of remaining 13, Davy shall come, see and conquer to return to his Danish jail. The remaining 12 are still absconding. Commenting on Bleach’s release, Pioneer, in its 15 Feb. 2004 issue, observed: “while Bleach enjoys freedom, hapless co-accused are still tied in legal knots (they are 136 in number) because (there was) no diplomatic straw for these falsely implicated.”

Yes, there was a big catch. Immediately after Bleach’s release, CBI after its nine-year-long trail nabbed Anand Marg leader Acharya Tatbhanand Avadhoot at Chanakyapuri (quite close to CBI unit’s office) as a close associate of Kim Davy in April, 2004. Three years later we find that he developed cancer, hence was released on conditional bail (at the age of 70) (Statesman, 28 Feb. ‘07). One wonders whether he is alive today.

Now, the real twist in war-on-terror. Peter Bleach and the five crew were, in fact, probably the sacrificial goats. Bleach had timely informed the British Secret Service about the proposed deal and air drop at great personal risk. The British agency had informed the Indian home ministry in October, 1995. Its officer, Shashi Prakash, sent the information to West Bengal government through a letter which reached Kolkata after the air drop. Instead of lodging a prompt FIR, the information was sent by post! No action was taken against Shashi Prakash for his negligence. Why? Because, Bleach suspected that the Indian government wanted the arms to be dropped! It is for this reason, the plane was not searched at Varanasi where it landed for refueling nor was it searched at Kolkata where it again landed for refuelling.

The government, as analysts feel, wanted to kill several birds with this air ‘dropping’. Recall here the fact that there was a CPI(M) government in West Bengal, settled firmly in the saddle for the last 18 years and 1996 elections were due. Unless a law-and-order situation was projected the Union government’s party would not be able to stage a comeback. The West Bengal government was to be blamed for mishandling The Anand Margis who had become an eye-sore, so had been the rebels in North East. To add credibility to conspiracy; eyen Bangladesh’s name was also dragged into the affair. It was alleged that Major Gen. Subhad Ali Bhuiyan, principal staff officer and a close aide of Khalida Zia, had signed the “end user certificate”. So conspiracy earned an international dimension. This Bhuiyan, .who worked in that capacity for six years (1991-96) and retired in 1997, changed camps. He is now an MP on an Awami league ticket of Sheikh Hasina. In spite of cordial relations with Bangaladesh, this officer was never contacted. Why? Bleach says CBI knew that it was a forged document.

Both RAW and CBI gave this twist to divert public attention and make it a convincing conspiracy inyolving a Muslim country. It became a credible story. Our patriots swallowed this cock and bull story. It was PV Narasimha Rao’s government which ruled the nation at that tirne. It was not done only when the Congress was in power, arms were dropped even in September 2001. 15 kgs of nitro was recovered with 500 detonators and 10 kgs of detonator wires. Five men were arrested. Who were the master then? CPI (M) accused BJP government was covering up the attempts of destablising West Bengal government.

In order to know the facts successive governments have been trying to get Davy extradited. In spite of Interpol red corner notice, the Danish government refused to hand him over. In 2002, PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee raised the issue in the Danish capital Copenhagen. It was turned down under legal excuses. Relenting, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh sought his extradition in 2002. As there was no such extradition treaty at that time, it was suggested that he could be tried by Dane authorities (Statesman, 12 May 2002).


Diary of events 17 Dec. 1995: arms dropped from Antonov An-26 aircraft in Purulia district. 22 Dec. 1995: plane was intercepted on its return flight. Mumbai Air Traffic Control forced the aircraft to land at Sahar airport. Peter Bleach and five members of crew arrested. Kim Davy escaped. 1997:  An Indian court determined Anand Marga’s involvement. 2 Jan 2000: Life imprisonment to all.  22 July 2000: V Putin pressurises Jaswant Singh during his Moscow visit  July 2000: Crew members released on diplomatic ground. 12 May 2002: CBI wants Denmark to try Davy. 15 Oct. 2002: Prime Minister AB Vajpayee raised issue in Copenhegan for Davy’s extradition. Request turned down. June 2003: LK Advani meets Blair 2 Feb.2004: An oficer from British Dy High Commissioner meets Bleach in jail. Assures him of his release. 14 Feb. 2004: President pardon granted to Bleach. 16 Feb.2004: Anand Marg leader Acharya Tatbhanand Avadhoot arrested in N Delhi in Chankyapuri area. 28 Feb. 2007: 70 year old Anand Margi Avadhoot released on conditional bail following illness (cancer)  8 Oct,2008: Extradition “almost” finalised on certain conditions09/04/10 - Danish authorities arrest Davy. 9 April 2010: Danish authorities arrest Davy.


The CBI is relying heavily on Bleach’s assurance that he would give evidence against Davy. Davy has already, in his bail appeal, pointed out that Indian authorities knew in advance about the drop. Quoting British parliamentary under-secretary Bill Rammell, he would plead that it was a failure on the part of the government. It did not arrest him at Varanasi nor at Kolkata and allowed the plane to go to Thailand. It should be remembered that the Dhaka government did not grant Davy landing permission and Davy was forced to seek landing at Phuket (Thailand). And yet they blamed Dhaka and Bhuiyan for their alleged role! In fact, Indian media was also exploited to spread the alleged role of Bangladesh.

Why did Vladimir Putin play the diplomatic card? The Latvian crew were innocent. They were bonafide flight crew of state-owned airline LATAVIO. In view of cargo contract, they had been granted three months leave to carry out the assignment. They had no idea that the cargo consisted of weapons. During their custody, they acquired Russain citizenship and were seriously ill.

Kim P Davy was a well-known smuggler having good contacts everywhere. The way he was allowed refuelling at Varanasi and Kolkata establish his ability to grease the palms. This is how he could manage his escape while the six persons were being interrogated at Mumbai’s Sahar airport, on their return trip. Of course, amchi Mumbai also had several patriots to allow him escape. He had become an Anand Margi and had the support of several other Anand Margis of foreign origin who had liberally supported his “mission”. Only one, out of the six kingpins, was an Indian named Deepak. It was Deepak and Davy who got the arsenal dropped from the rear of the aircraft (the crew were totally unaware).


II


It is time to recount the tale which has all the ingredients of a Bollywood blockbuster except that there is not a single heroine or vamp. Even the roles of hero/villain are extremely confounding. Heroes have been turned into villains or vice versa)!

Bleach, a citizen of UK, an Irish, was an export trader and broker. His was a registered company dealing with legitimate governments only in close association with government establishment. He got a deal finalised with Kim P Davy. In course of time, he suspected foul play and realised that it involved illegal transportation.

Mr William met Bleach for purchase of bulk load of cigarettes in May/June 1995. He asked Bleach to be in touch with Mr Peter Haestrup. In the beginning the deal was for supply of cigarettes but later on Haestrup desired supply of 2500 AK-47 rifles and 1.5 million rounds of ammunition.

He tipped The British Secret Service about the matter. This he did at a great personal risk. The British Secret Service took necessary action, i.e., conveyed the facts to the Indian home ministry almost two months in advance. The babu in the ministry treated it as a routine message and, instead of lodging an FIR and alerting the West Bengal government, sent the letter to West Bengal government by ordinary post. It reached Kolkata after the sensational drop. CBI accused Bleach of withholding crucial information, hence a partner in the conspiracy. There were eight charges against him including waging war against the country.

The diary of events gives an idea how the operation was executed. Bleach reached Bulgaria on 10 December, 1995 to carry out the assignment. On 11 December,.Davy informed him that arms and guns had been loaded and payments were made in London. On 16 December, he was introduced to Deepak. On 17 December the aircraft, specially purchased for the assignment, took off for Varanasi. Davy went to the airport terminal to attend formalities. Having taken fuel, it took off without any hindrance. Bleach had nursed a feeling that his tip off would prompt Indian authorities to action. During flight, Davy gave the crew a piece of paper showing details of a new course. The crew did not have any inkling about the cargo nor about its illegal transport. Davy and Deepak positioned themselves, unlocked the cargo pallets, pushed them out of the rear of aircraft. Davy closed the door. Several hundred AK-47 rifles and about a million rounds of ammunition were dropped over a large area in Jhalda, Ghatanga, Belamu, Maramu villages of Purulia district.

The aircraft joined its old course and flew to Kolkata. Since Dhaka did not give landing permission it had to land at Kolkata for refuelling. Even at Kolkata,.there was no search and after refuelling it took off for Phuket (Thailand) without any official check, hindrance,or action.

On its return flight on 22 December, 1995 it was intercepted by Air Force MIG 21. Later on, this proved to be a false claim. The Mumbai Air Traffic Control forced the aircraft to land at Sahar airport. Bleach alongwith five crew members was arrested while Davy remained inside the plane. By the time the authorities began looking for him, he had escaped from the Sahar airport.  The arsenal was intended for the socio-spiritual organisation Anand Marg (Path of Bliss) according to one version while the other version says that it was meant for rebel insurgents in the North East.

While an Indian court in 1997 found the six prisoners guilty and awarded life sentence to all the masterminds, Davy remained absconding (alongwith other twelve accused). A red corner Interpol notice was issued in 2002. In Nov, 2007, home minister Shivraj Patil replied in Lok Sabha about an international conspiracy, answering a question raised by Basudev Acharia CPI (M). Meanwhile, the five crew and Bleach had been released following diplomatic requests from the Russain and British governments. In fact, after the release of crew in 2000, British pressure for Bleach’s release had mounted. He too was released in 2004 through a Presidential Pardon.

Davy had been hiding in Denmark all these years enjoying media attention. Yet in spite of CBI’s frantic efforts he remained free. Traced in 2007, the Danish authorities ultimately arrested him on 9 April, 2010 to be extradited to India on “specific assurances” from the Indian government. Author of the book, They call me Terrorist,.he had been on CBI scanner since 1988 and has as many as 46 aliases. It Took CBI almost a year to ascertain that his real name was Niels Christian Nielsen. The slow process and the “narrow misses” by CBI gave an impression that Indian authorities did not actually want him because they would be embarrassed by his revelations.

BBC documentary “Weapons from the Sky” seems to corroborate Bleach’s version. The forged document issued under Bhuiyan’s signature, i.e., the End User Certificate needed for any arms deal and transportation (vide 21/1/AA/Army/A&L (l)/2 dated 4 November, 1995 against contract No. 214/719/Project DGDP/Ord/P-4 & commercial Invoice 04/HPS/10 Nov., 95) is said to be in their possession. As already mentioned above, Bhuiyan was not contracted by CBI in spite of terming it an “international conspiracy” and despite the fact that our country had extremely cordial relations with Bangladesh which would have readily co-operated were such enquiries really made.

What insights Davy’s disclosure would provide is a matter of speculation. It is doubtful whether any significant lead would come out of a three-week interrogation. He will come as a state guest, give some real (or false) clues and return as state guest. If found guilty, our diplomatic sources will try their utmost to see that he is tried and punished in Denmark. How many years it would take is any ones’ guess.

The crucial questions is the time and leniency in tracing and punishing a terrorist and the lightning speed of nabbing and sentencing “other” terrorists because they do not have “white” complexion nor belong to a particular faith. As Pioneer had exclaimed on 15 Feb, 04, “Justice Bleached”; it is time to ask whether other prisoners have any hope of their release if not through diplomatic intervention at least via Presidential Pardon.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 December 2010 on page no. 6

We hope you liked this report/article. The Milli Gazette is a free and independent readers-supported media organisation. To support it, please contribute generously. Click here or email us at sales@milligazette.com

blog comments powered by Disqus