Purulia was RAW-MI5 operation to overthrow Basu: Bleach, Davy

NEW DELHI: The 1995 Purulia arms drop returned to haunt Congress with those involved in the operation saying New Delhi conspired with British intelligence to target the Jyoti Basu regime in West Bengal.

Peter Bleach, a British citizen who served a sentence for his role in the arms drop, and fugitive prime accused Kim Davy, a Danish national, on Thursday made the accusations in an exclusive interview to Times Now.

The allegations brought the Congress in the Opposition's line of fire. CPM said it was "further confirmation of the fact that there was a conspiracy to use violence to destabilise the Left Front".

The BJP said it impinged on India's security. The Congress retaliated saying the BJP should explain how its government released Bleach through a Presidential pardon in 2004.

British arms trader Peter Bleach and the five-member crew of a Latvian aircraft were sentenced to life imprisonment for an arms drop over West Bengal's Purulia in 1995.

The arms dropped were parachuted out of a transport plane and were believed to be for Anand Margis. The convicted were later repatriated after the Latvian and British governments pleaded with New Delhi. Davy, who was named as the kingpin in the episode had remained a fugitive all this while.

Senior government officials dubbed Davy's claims as a possible attempt to stall his impending extradition to India. The Danish "authorities had cleared his extradition last year, but Davy filed an appeal against the order. "His appeal is set to be decided in the coming days...which is why he may be trying to use the alleged 'expose' to block his extradition to India," a government officer said adding that the Davy's version seemed to far-fetched.

To ram in his point, the officer asked "why the government would push for Davy's extradition if it had secrets to hide in the Purulia armsdrop case. Bleach and Davy, in the interviews to Times Now said not only did the Narasimha Rao government have full knowledge of the operation, but supported it to further its political agenda.

Asked why the Indian government would allow the dropping of a large cache of arms, Bleach said "to understand that you have to stop thinking of Indian territory. This wasn't dropped so much in Indian territory as in Bengali territory. The target here was the government of West Bengal.

At that time, Jyoti Basu was the Chief Minister and the CPM was in power. The whole objective, my understanding was to destabilise the government of West Bengal so that President's rule could be declared and the state would have been ruled directly from Delhi. That could have disposed the CPM (Left Front) government and that was the entire purpose of the job as I understand it now. I didn't understand it at that time and I have to stress."

Bleach said he was saying all this 16 years later because India wanted Kim Davy back in India and this has "disrupted" his life yet again. On his role in the arms drop, Bleach said he was approached as a businessman to sell somebody some arms and ammunition.

When he discovered this was an illegal deal supporting a terrorist group in India, he reported that to the British Government. "And I was interviewed by MI5 who passed all the information back to India. I was told that the Indian Government wanted the guns delivered into India so they could arrest the people concerned and find out who the guns were for."

He claimed that he had got a copy of all the notes taken by the MI5 officer and the special branch officer who visited him and it contained the full details passed to India. Kim Davy said political forces in the Centre were involved. Asked why he was revealing all this now, Davy said he feared extradition to India and wanted to reveal truth.

"I am saying that there were political forces at the Centre in Delhi who saw it as an opportune way to further there political agenda. You must remember that in...we are talking ancient history here, but in 1988, the Centre introduced presidential rule in Tripura after engaging in supply of arms to different rebel groups there. The same strategy was announced publicly in the beginning of the 90's that there was a decision to introduce presidential rule in West Bengal and therefore... it was seen as a furthering of this agenda that arms were procured to protect local people," he said.

Meanwhile, the CPM Polit Bureau said: "Whatever has been said by Kim Davy and Peter Bleach, who was sentenced in the case, shows that the arms drop for the Ananda Margis was planned through an international network and the target was the Left Front government."