Suspicions have swirled in the air for decades now about the deaths of Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai. How valid are these doubts?
Death of Bhabha
For decades now, there has been a speculation about the death of Homi Bhabha. To my mind, till today, these were ‘conspiracy’ theories – of a weak and poor nation, which probably saw ghosts under their beds.
Bhabha died in mysterious air crash near Mont Blanc in Swiss Alps, when Air India Flight 101, a scheduled Boeing 707 flight from Mumbai to New York, crashed on January 24th, 1966.
The pilot did not report any problem with the aircraft, and was preparing to land at Geneva, when without any forewarning the plane crashed. All 106 passengers and 11 crew were killed.
A subsequent enquiry concluded that it was pilot error, who had miscalculated his position – and started descent for Geneva, while still in the mountains, only to crash in to the Swiss Alps.
Some other individuals concluded otherwise.
Two deaths in two weeks
Bhabha’s death was 15 days after Shastri died at Tashkent – again by mysterious heart attack. Before that in 1955, in another Air-India crash, it was suspected that Chou En Lai was the intended victim.
Strangely, Vikram Sarabhai, also died in his sleep at Kovalam, even though he suffered from no signs of any heart disease. Before Pokhran in 1974, Nehru claimed from 1958 onwards, that India could produce a nuclear weapon in a few years time.
The Americans deny everything.
The Israelis also deny everything — but with a smile, according to a senior U.S. official.
Regardless of who is killing Iran’s nuclear scientists — the Israelis, the Americans or the Iranians themselves — there’s no question that researchers and officials linked to Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program keep turning up dead.
Since 2007, four different scientists allegedly associated with the nation’s nuclear weapons program have died via bomb, gunshot or poisoning, while a fifth barely survived a car bombing.
The most recent victim, 35-year-old Darioush Rezaeinejad, was shot in the neck outside his daughter’s Tehran kindergarten on Saturday by two gunmen on a motorcycle. According to an unconfirmed report in an Israeli intelligence publication, Rezaeinejad was working on a nuclear detonator, and was seen daily at a nuclear lab in northern Tehran.
I see four key elements. First, Iran is fiddling around with nuclear triggers and high-precision detonators because it seeks a military-nuclear capability common to its region (Israel, Pakistan, India and Russia).
Second, its halting progress toward this goal, far slower than Pakistan’s, relates not only to effective countermeasures (Stuxnet, dead scientists) but also to a deep-seated inertia and ambiguity; Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, is the “guardian of the revolution” and as such in a conservative business where he will be judged on the Islamic Republic’s survival. The nuclear program is nationalistic glue for a fragile society even if it goes nowhere.
Third, Iran, shaken by the 2009 uprising, a young nation with a stale revolutionary regime, is uneasy: a feverish demand for hard currency has pushed the unofficial dollar rate way above the official one, prices for staples are soaring, a huge banking scandal has underscored rampant corruption, and the tensions between the Islamic Republic’s divine superstructure (Khamenei) and its (fraudulently) elected president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, are virulent.
Fourth, the big loser from the Arab Spring has been Iran because the uprisings are about accountability and representation, which is precisely what the Iranian Revolution denied its authors after promising freedom. Nobody finds inspiration in the Iranian model. (via Contain and Constrain Iran – NYTimes.com).
All this, makes me question my lack of belief in validity of conspiracy theories.
- How Homi Bhabha’s vision turned India into a nuclear R&D leader (guardian.co.uk)
- India uncloaks new thorium nuke plants (go.theregister.com)
- India’s nuclear future put on hold (nature.com)
- India’s Nuclear Future Put On Hold (scientificamerican.com)
- Copies of The Hindu found in diplomatic bag that went down with AI aircraft 46 years ago (thehindu.com)
- Buried for 46 years under snow, Indian diplomatic bag found (ndtv.com)
- After 46 years, India’s historic “diplomatic mail” is recovered from French Alps (dawn.com)
- The true reason US fears Iranian nukes: they can deter US attacks (guardian.co.uk)
- India claims ‘historic’ diplomatic bag lost in French Alps (dawn.com)
- French climber rules out more bodies from Air India crash (gulfnews.com)