On December 17, 1995, an ageing Russian AN 26 transport plane took off from Karachi ostensibly for Dhaka. After refuelling at Varasi, it made a course diversion over Gaya, Bihar. When it was over Purulia in West Bengal, the plane flew dangerously low and dropped, amid darkness, four tonnes of deadly arms and ammunition, for the Anda Marg, a semi-secret cult. It was, as author Chandan ndy rightly points out, “one of the most bizarre and, admittedly, a spectacular operation to breach India’s security”. On board were eight men: Niels Christian Nielsen alias Kim Davy from Denmark and the operatiol mastermind, Peter Bleach, a British arms dealer and part-time source for British intelligence, Deepak Manikan, a Singaporean of Indian descent, and five Russian-speaking Latvian crew.
Mission over, the plane returned to its origil flight corridor, coolly landed at Kolkata’s Dum Dum airport, re-fuelled and took off for Phuket in Thailand. Early the next morning, villagers over a wide area were startled to find in their fields and open ground all sorts of strange weapons. What rained from the skies was lethality: 10 RPG-7 rocket launchers, 300 AK-47s, 25 9-mm pistols, two 7.62 sniper rifles, two night vision binoculors, 100 gredes, 23,800 rounds of 7.62 ammunition, 6,000 rounds of 9-mm ammunition, 100 anti-tank gredes as well as 10 telescopic sights for rocket launchers. Purulia, which housed the Anda Marg headquarters, had seen nothing like this. The cargo weighed 4,375 kg!
Unfortutely for the audacious conspirators, things went wrong when they decided to fly back to Karachi via India even after knowing that the operation had blundered and that Indian security forces - not Anda Marg — were picking up the weapons. ndy exposes in the book, most comprehensively for the first time, the “Neolithic incompetence” of the Indian security setup, before and after Purulia.
The irony is that RAW, India’s exterl intelligence agency, had been tipped off about the Purulia arms drop by Britain’s MI5. On November 25, 1995, RAW had officially alerted the Intelligence Bureau, the Cabinet Secretary, the Home Secretary and the Defence Secretary, mentioning, near accurately, where the arms delivery would be made. Yet, a full three weeks later, not only did the plane enter India, refuel in Varasi, drop the cargo in Purulia, refuel (!) in Kolkata and then, from Phuket, flew to Cheni, for more fuel! That’s when the plane’s luck ran out.
After it took off from Cheni, Indian authorities ordered it to land in Mumbai. But even as it landed, more of plain stupidity on the part of Indian officialdom was in full display. There were no security personnel to apprehend them! Those Indian officials who approached the plane initially were more curious to know why the plane had landed! Amid the confusion, Kim Davy escaped!
At the end of the “immensely vexing, extraordirily complex and tangled” story, ndy feels that the rendra Modi government must revive the case, pursue every available means to bring Kim Davy to justice in India, and hunt down the Anda Marg monks wanted in the case but who are still on the run. The UPA government had taken some unusually strong steps against Denmark; clearly more is needed. (IANS)