A Kolkata newspaper has resurrected the 1995 Purulia armsdrop controversy, implicating the leader of a Bangladesh freedom fighters’ team now there in the Victory Day celebrations of the Indian army.
Retired Maj Gen Shubid Ali Bhuiyan is leading a team of 20 Muktijoddhas (freedom fighters), to take part in the celebrations at the Indian Army’s Eastern Command Fort William headquarters in Calcutta.
The ‘Bengal Post’, an English daily, ran a front-page flier on Saturday December 15, saying that Bhuiyan, as Principal Staff Officer at the Armed Forces Division of the Prime Minister’s Office in 1995, had signed an end-user certificate for the weapons consignment that was dropped over several villages in West Bengal’s Purulia district on the night of Dec 17, 1995.
Danish national Neils Christen Nielsen alias Kim Davy and British arms dealer Peter Bleach were convicted for dropping these weapons over the Purulia villages from an Antonov-26 aircraft.
The case was investigated by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which approached the Danish government to repatriate Neilsen to stand trial in India, but Copenhagen refused.
Bleach and the five Russian pilots of the aircraft were sentenced for life but then let off after being pardoned by the Indian president following intense lobbying by London and Moscow.
The ‘Bengal Post’ report says that Bleach and Davy had secured a fake ‘end-user’ certificate for this huge weapons consignment that helped carry it from Bourgas in Bulgaria, where it was loaded, through airports at Isphahan (Iran), Karachi (Pakistan) and Varanasi (India).
As the Armed Forces Division PSO, the then Maj Gen Subid Ali Bhuiyan was said to have signed this ‘end-user’ certificate that gave the impression about these weapons being meant for official acquisition by the Bangladesh army, which was not the case.
CBI officials say that the end-user certificate in question was submitted in court by its officials to back its charges in the Purulia armsdrop case.
Veteran journalists including Chandan Nandy, who is now writing a book on the Purulia armsdrop, also have copies of the ‘end-user’ certificate, which they say is fake.
“How can India invite such a controversial figure for an auspicious occasion like the Victory Day,” Nandy said.
The ‘Bengal Post’ says the end user certificate was possibly secured by Peter Bleach through his contacts in Bangladesh by foul rather than fair means. Nandy agrees.
The newspaper quotes an Indian External Affairs Ministry official as saying that Delhi was not aware of Bhuiyan’s antecedents while inviting him and that “it would take a while to check up”.
Bhuiyan, having failed to make it to the BNP, later joined the Awami League and was elected to parliament after he retired from the army, the report said.