The night of 17th December 1995 witnessed an ageing Russian Antonov-26 drop three weapon-laden wooden pallets over Purulia, a backward, nondescript district in West Bengal. The same plane force-landed at Mumbai’s Santa Cruz airport four days later, from where the mastermind of the operation Kim Peter Davy managed a heroic escape. Why was the shipment airdropped at Purulia and not somewhere else? Who were to use those weapons? Was it an attempt to topple the CPI(M)-ruled state government of Bengal, or an international conspiracy spanning continents? The Night It Rained Guns, penned by one of India’s prime investigative journalist Chandan Nandy, strive to unearth the many connected events that led to the biggest breach in our nation’s air security.
This was a conspiracy I knew little about. When this book shipped in for review, it was my father who read the synopsis and started filling me in with details of whatever he could remember of that incident and its aftermath. Which was enough, but honestly not much, which I came to know after having finished the book. The conspiracy angle was enough to get me started with the book, but the first chapter proved to be inferior, inferior as in details flung off pages about how the author participated in that event and what he did, and I was very apprehensive as to how Nandy has treated the remainder. But I needn’t have been, for since the second chapter onwards he advances to uncover the many events and conspiracies in a very thriller-like template, backed by some heavy-duty research while keeping his sources unnamed. Unnamed, because as he mentions in advance, he doesn’t want to create problems for certain people in important government organisations like RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) and CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation).
Too much information has been ratted out on the people involved, and also on the officials who sent warning notes to Bihar and West Bengal state governments. Further embarrassing the CBI, Nandy goes on to add that the fictitious company Carol Air Service which procured the A26 aircraft was formed just couple months before the drop, but CBI never pursued these companies, he writes. The financial backup this conspiracy had is a huge elephant in itself.
The only concern here is the conformity of the information, but that concern goes out the window once the plot details are sketched, for they are so beautifully weaved that one can just go on reading this book as an Ashwin Sanghi thriller, minus the mythological elements. And of course, no climax yet, since the case was never closed.
A gripping read on an international conspiracy, this book shall suffice your want of some bookish excitement.