The strange death of the other man born on October 2

We know enough about the death of Mahatma Gandhi and who was responsible for it.

But do we know the truth about the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri?

Maybe you think you do, after watching the weird hotchpotch of a film called  “The Tashkent Files”. Admittedly it has been one of the few box-office successes of 2019. But there are few films which have got such bad reviews, as you can see in the summary here:

OK, you think you know better than the reviewers? But then what is the solution to the mystery?

Go to the source, namely the only good book on the subject:

And the author:

He has written a series of books about the Netaji mystery. After reading all the books, one is no wiser as to what happened to him. Admittedly there is no definite proof that the ashes in Japan are that of Netaji, but there is no definite proof of anything else either. The red herring of Gumnami Baba is now being invoked as the final solution of the Netaji mystery, though one fails to understand what it implies if he was indeed Netaji. And if it was, what useful thing did he achieve in all the years he was supposed to have lived in India?

A good way to sell books, TV serials and movies. Not unlike the JFK conspiracy industry in the US.

However, the book “Your Prime Minister is Dead” does deserve to be read. The writer has done painstaking research including studying the CIA archives. And he concludes that neither the US government nor the Soviet government nor the CIA or the KGB had any logical reason to murder Shastriji. One waits for the damning piece of evidence which ties some person or agency to the plot. There isn’t any.

Rather, there is some complicated reasoning implying that Shastriji died because of some sudden revelation about Netaji was about to be made. Then the author is on more familiar ground and switches the focus back to his favourite mystery.

I am not saying the book is rubbish. The author has done a creditable job in following up all the rumours and loose talk which persisted for years after the events of January 1966. The book is useful in that respect if you do not remember the events. But after reading the book, one is convinced that his death was due to natural causes and no one has been able to prove otherwise. And probably no one will be able to prove anything 53 years after the event.

The only useful thing that emerges is that a proper autopsy should be conducted whenever any eminent person passes away.

Anyway, read the book if you need to know the basic facts.



MH 370: The saga STILL continues

I have written on this topic before. Here is a summary of what was known in December 2014:

and a later comment on the Indian angle:

As mentioned earlier, one forum which attracts a fair number of well-informed comments is:

Sometimes a single article attracts over 1200 comments, which are worth reading if you want to know about this deepest of mysteries.

Basically the old idea that the crash’s location was determined by the BFO transmissions is being given less credence now-so if the plane did not go to the southern Indian Ocean, where else could it have gone? This aspect is studied by Victor Iannello here:

Anyone a bit familiar with Indian aviation would see something wrong in his scenario. Look at the map and then see my comment (among the first few).

MH 370-the Indian angle

As the anniversary of the disappearance of MH 370 draws around, we look back at some news reports from last March considering what India may have been able to do at that time and why they did not do anything.

While the transponder on MH 370 ceased to function while approaching the Vietnamese coast, it was still trackable by primary radar until it went out of range. This is the last definitive information we have about its path:


Note that at the last point it is heading towards the Nicobar islands.

We first look at this report discussing possible landing sites in the Andamans and the nearby Coco islands (which are Myanmarese territory). This was written before the Inmarsat pings and the Southern Indian Ocean trajectory became common knowledge.

Of course, landing at the Indian airports at Campbell Bay, Car Nicobar, Port Blair and Shibpur could not have happened without the knowledge (or connivance) of the Indian armed forces. And the path to the Coco Islands should have been detected by Port Blair’s radar if it was working.

As this is the most remote part of India, a few maps may be helpful for orientation:Andamans-A 001

Note that the Andamans and the Nicobars are distinct island groups. They are grouped together as a single territory called “The Andaman and Nicobar Islands”, as in the map above.

Most of the population is in the Andamans, and the Nicobars have little population outside the Indian military bases. The forests of both island groups are largely inhabited by tribes who have little contact with the outside world. (You may recall the poison dart man from “The Sign of Four”).Very few Indian civilians (other than those employed by the government) are allowed to travel to the Nicobars.

Another point of interest is that the islands are considerably closer to Myanmar and Indonesia than they are to India. In turboprop days the Indian Airlines Viscount flights from Calcutta to Port Blair used to refuel at Rangoon. Direct flights started only with the 737s.

The islands had been occupied by the Japanese for a long period during WW2.

A closer look at the Andamans (and the Coco Islands):

Andamans-B 001

Here you see the main town of Port Blair, its airport (which is run by the military, who allow civilian flights for part of the day), the little-used airstrip at Shibpur and the Coco islands.

And finally the Nicobars:

Andamans-C 001

Here we see Car Nicobar with its 8900-ft airfield which was wrecked in the 2004 tsunami and promptly rebuilt, and the smaller base at Campbell Bay which handles smaller aircraft and probably has little or no radar. Car Nicobar does handle 737s and A320s on military charters, besides Il-76s and the smaller military transports such as AN-32s.

Note the proximity to Banda Aceh which would have been circumnavigated by MH 370 as many believe.

Now a couple of articles by an Indian aviation expert. This newspaper and the writer are generally considered to be reliable. Of course, these articles are based on what was known at the time of writing.

From the Hindu of 18/03/2014:

and from the same paper of 26/03/2014:

These two articles reflect what was known at that time. I am not sure whether the writer’s comments about the state of affairs at the radar facilities at Car Nicobar and Port Blair are fully reliable. But if the Car Nicobar radar was functioning, it would certainly have caught some part of the track of MH 370 before if it disappeared towards the South Pole (or to the Maldives or Diego Garcia if you believe those theories).

However, even if you stick to the northern path to Baikonur or nearby, it would be difficult for it to get through the radars of Kolkata international airport and several large air force bases in eastern India where the radar would be better monitored than in the sleepy outposts in the islands.

Footnote: A total of 239 persons were aboard the missing aircraft, being 12 crew and 227 passengers. 5 passengers were listed as Indian citizens. There may have been a few crew members and passengers from Malaysia with Indian-sounding names.