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The death of an unknown Indian pilot, and the lost history of a CIA plot to kill a Chinese premier

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The death of an unknown Indian pilot, and the lost history of a CIA plot to kill a Chinese premier

In 1955, an attempted assassination to derail the Non-Aligned Movement, and the bravery of those who survived it​

Written by P Raman
New Delhi | Updated: December 6, 2022 3:34:02 pm

WhatsApp-Image-2022-12-05-at-5.42.33-PM.jpeg

M C Dikshit in his home in East Delhi. (Express Photo)

M C Dikshit died in Delhi on December 5 at the age of 105 after prolonged illness. And with him, the world lost the last of the witnesses to a gruesome Cold War conspiracy that ended up in the mid-air explosion of the Kashmir Princess, which was to take Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai to Jakarta for the historic Bandung conference.

Frail and sporting a Ho Chi Minh beard, few in East Delhi’s Samachar Apartments, where he lived, knew he was the one who co-piloted the Indian Airlines plane Kashmir Princess that fell into the sea after a mid-air bomb blast on April 11, 1955. Even a few months before his death, Dikshit was seen walking to the local market.

Book-Cover-Karnik.jpg

A S Karnik wrote a book on the air crash.

The sordid plot began with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru offering to ferry Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai in an Indian Airlines aeroplane from Peking to Jakarta to enable him to attend the Bandung conference from April 18 to 24, 1955. This was in view of the security threat to the Chinese leader. Accordingly, the Kashmir Princess was directed to take the Chinese delegation from Honk Kong to Jakarta.

The plane took off on the night of April 11, 1955, but without Zhou Enlai and his senior colleagues. Five hours after the takeoff, it exploded at a height of 18,000 feet. Sixteen persons, including the crew, were killed as the smoke-filled plane nose dove into the Pacific Ocean near Natua island. Three crew members — co-pilot M C Dikshit who died last night, flight navigator J C Pathak, and mechanical engineer A S Karnik — survived the crash. They kept themselves afloat on the high seas before Indonesian fishermen rescued them the next day.

Dixit.jpg

M C Dikshit

Captain D K Katar and air hostess Gloria Berry showed exemplary courage in saving the passengers instead of bailing themselves out from the falling plane. Later, they were awarded the Ashok Chakra.

Back in Delhi, Nehru invited the three survivors to Teen Murti House. But typical of those years of idealism, the three politely declined any special honours. They took it as their duty to the nation. Even in his sunset days, Dikshit was reluctant to talk about what happened in 1955.
However, his colleague A S Karnik wrote a book on the air crash.

In July, 2005, the Chinese government declassified the records relating to the CIA conspiracy to assassinate Zhou. It revealed that four days before the blast, that is, on April 7, Zhou had changed his plans and decided to accept Burmese leader U Nu’s invitation to fly from Rangoon to Jakarta. Nehru and Egypt’s Kamal Abdul Nasser had also joined the team. However, change of the flight schedule was kept secret with a view to confuse Cold War rivals.

China’s investigations later showed that the plot was masterminded by the CIA but executed by Kuomintang agents in Hong Kong. One Zhou Zhu, a cleaner at the airport and a drug addict, had planted the explosive — a US-made MK-7 detonator — in the wheels of the aircraft. In the middle of the investigations by the then British administration of Honk Kong, Zhu was spirited away to safety in an aircraft owned by a CIA-funded firm.

The government of India deputed R N Kao who later became the first chief of Research & Analysis Wing (RAW), to investigate the crash of the Kashmir Princess. The three survivors, including Dikshit, were crucial for the investigation.

Twenty-nine countries had attended the Afro-Asian conference at Indonesian resort-city Bandung from April 18 to 24, 1955. The conference laid the foundation for the Non-Aligned Movement. Apart from Indonesian President Sukarno, Nehru, Nassar, Zhou Enlai and U Nu played a major role.

From the very beginning, Americans were worried over the Bandung conference, which was seen as a Soviet ploy against the US. As early as January, that is, three months before the conference, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles set up a working group which included intelligence outfits and diplomats to keep a tab on what was seen as an anti-US line-up.

The probe by the Indian team revealed that it was the starboard of the plane that first hit the water after it fell into the sea. The aircraft totally burned in the air. All except three crew members — Dikshit, Pathak and Karnik — were killed. Captain Katar remained in the seat and supervised the rescue operations. Air hostess Gloria Berry kept her calm and distributed seat belts to the passengers risking her own life, Indian investigators found.
 

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The death of an unknown Indian pilot, and the lost history of a CIA plot to kill a Chinese premier

In 1955, an attempted assassination to derail the Non-Aligned Movement, and the bravery of those who survived it​

Written by P Raman
New Delhi | Updated: December 6, 2022 3:34:02 pm

WhatsApp-Image-2022-12-05-at-5.42.33-PM.jpeg

M C Dikshit in his home in East Delhi. (Express Photo)

M C Dikshit died in Delhi on December 5 at the age of 105 after prolonged illness. And with him, the world lost the last of the witnesses to a gruesome Cold War conspiracy that ended up in the mid-air explosion of the Kashmir Princess, which was to take Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai to Jakarta for the historic Bandung conference.

Frail and sporting a Ho Chi Minh beard, few in East Delhi’s Samachar Apartments, where he lived, knew he was the one who co-piloted the Indian Airlines plane Kashmir Princess that fell into the sea after a mid-air bomb blast on April 11, 1955. Even a few months before his death, Dikshit was seen walking to the local market.

Book-Cover-Karnik.jpg

A S Karnik wrote a book on the air crash.

The sordid plot began with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru offering to ferry Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai in an Indian Airlines aeroplane from Peking to Jakarta to enable him to attend the Bandung conference from April 18 to 24, 1955. This was in view of the security threat to the Chinese leader. Accordingly, the Kashmir Princess was directed to take the Chinese delegation from Honk Kong to Jakarta.

The plane took off on the night of April 11, 1955, but without Zhou Enlai and his senior colleagues. Five hours after the takeoff, it exploded at a height of 18,000 feet. Sixteen persons, including the crew, were killed as the smoke-filled plane nose dove into the Pacific Ocean near Natua island. Three crew members — co-pilot M C Dikshit who died last night, flight navigator J C Pathak, and mechanical engineer A S Karnik — survived the crash. They kept themselves afloat on the high seas before Indonesian fishermen rescued them the next day.

Dixit.jpg

M C Dikshit

Captain D K Katar and air hostess Gloria Berry showed exemplary courage in saving the passengers instead of bailing themselves out from the falling plane. Later, they were awarded the Ashok Chakra.

Back in Delhi, Nehru invited the three survivors to Teen Murti House. But typical of those years of idealism, the three politely declined any special honours. They took it as their duty to the nation. Even in his sunset days, Dikshit was reluctant to talk about what happened in 1955.
However, his colleague A S Karnik wrote a book on the air crash.

In July, 2005, the Chinese government declassified the records relating to the CIA conspiracy to assassinate Zhou. It revealed that four days before the blast, that is, on April 7, Zhou had changed his plans and decided to accept Burmese leader U Nu’s invitation to fly from Rangoon to Jakarta. Nehru and Egypt’s Kamal Abdul Nasser had also joined the team. However, change of the flight schedule was kept secret with a view to confuse Cold War rivals.

China’s investigations later showed that the plot was masterminded by the CIA but executed by Kuomintang agents in Hong Kong. One Zhou Zhu, a cleaner at the airport and a drug addict, had planted the explosive — a US-made MK-7 detonator — in the wheels of the aircraft. In the middle of the investigations by the then British administration of Honk Kong, Zhu was spirited away to safety in an aircraft owned by a CIA-funded firm.

The government of India deputed R N Kao who later became the first chief of Research & Analysis Wing (RAW), to investigate the crash of the Kashmir Princess. The three survivors, including Dikshit, were crucial for the investigation.

Twenty-nine countries had attended the Afro-Asian conference at Indonesian resort-city Bandung from April 18 to 24, 1955. The conference laid the foundation for the Non-Aligned Movement. Apart from Indonesian President Sukarno, Nehru, Nassar, Zhou Enlai and U Nu played a major role.

From the very beginning, Americans were worried over the Bandung conference, which was seen as a Soviet ploy against the US. As early as January, that is, three months before the conference, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles set up a working group which included intelligence outfits and diplomats to keep a tab on what was seen as an anti-US line-up.

The probe by the Indian team revealed that it was the starboard of the plane that first hit the water after it fell into the sea. The aircraft totally burned in the air. All except three crew members — Dikshit, Pathak and Karnik — were killed. Captain Katar remained in the seat and supervised the rescue operations. Air hostess Gloria Berry kept her calm and distributed seat belts to the passengers risking her own life, Indian investigators found.
And later same technique was used for General Zia`s C-130.
 

SIPRA

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And later same technique was used for General Zia`s C-130.

Somewhat different. According to the most accepted theory, fire-fighter, in the cockpit, was replaced, with nerve-gas vessel, of similar form and color, with mechanism of gas expulsion to be triggered at a prescribed elevation, to incapacitate the pilots.
 
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jamahir

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China’s investigations later showed that the plot was masterminded by the CIA but executed by Kuomintang agents in Hong Kong. One Zhou Zhu, a cleaner at the airport and a drug addict, had planted the explosive — a US-made MK-7 detonator — in the wheels of the aircraft. In the middle of the investigations by the then British administration of Honk Kong, Zhu was spirited away to safety in an aircraft owned by a CIA-funded firm.

How was the Indian plane left unsupervised despite the passengers being such sensitive targets for CIA ?

And later same technique was used for General Zia`s C-130.

What Zia ? Probably Pakistani leftists killed him. Good riddance for becoming the conduit for NATO-arranged psychopaths from Indonesia to South Asia to NATO-bloc-specific places of West Asia to elsewhere to use Pakistan as the staging ground to destroy progressive Afghanistan under the Communists, killing two million Afghans and making millions more refugees and giving rise to Al Qaeda and Taliban who make Afghans' lives miserable to this day. And of course establishing an elite team of Tableeghi "scientists" to research ways to harness jinn power to solve the power problems of humanity once and for all.
 

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And later same technique was used for General Zia`s C-130.
Somewhat different. According to the most accepted theory, fire-fighter, in the cockpit, was replaced, with nerve-gas vessel, of similar form and color, with mechanism of gas expulsion to be triggered by a prescribed elevation, to incapacitate the pilots.

Wasn't Zia a close US ally? Why would they kill him?
 

SIPRA

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Wasn't Zia a close US ally? Why would they kill him?

His utility for US was ended, and he was not ready to quit, and was interfering in the future US plans for Afghanistan. So, had to be removed. But, he was not killed by CIA, directly. They only gave approval. Rest was done by local collaborators.
 

jamahir

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His utility for US was ended, and he was not ready to quit, and was interfering in the future US plans for Afghanistan. So, had to be removed. But, he was not killed by CIA, directly. They only gave approval. Rest was done by local collaborators.

Sipra saheb :

1. What wasn't he ready to quit ?

2. What were these American government plans he was interfering with ?

3. Have a look :
Several conspiracy theories exist regarding this incident, as other high-profile civilian and military personnel also died in the crash including the Chairman Joint chiefs General Akhtar Abdur Rehman and the United States Ambassador to Pakistan, Arnold Lewis Raphel, and the military attaché, Brigadier General Herbert M. Wassom.
Why would the CIA approve of killing two of very senior American government officials ?

4. Zia ul Haq being a mullah had been a very useful tool for NATO for a long time. From his time in the army helping Jordan government ( thus NATO and Israel government ) in slaughtering the leftist PLO fighters in Jordan :

Role of Pakistani Zia-ul-Haq and Iranian leftist guerillas​

The head of a Pakistani training mission to Jordan, Brigadier Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (later Chief of Army Staff and President of Pakistan), was involved on the Jordanian side.[67] Zia had been stationed in Amman for three years prior to Black September. During the events, according to CIA official Jack O'Connell, Zia was dispatched by Hussein north to assess Syria's military capabilities. The Pakistani commander reported back to Hussein, recommending the deployment of a RJAF squadron to the region.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_September#cite_note-70 O'Connell also said that Zia personally led Jordanian troops during the battles.[69]

Two Iranian leftist guerilla organizations, the Organization of Iranian People's Fedai Guerrillas (OIPFG) and the People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI), were involved in the conflict against Jordan.[70] Their "collaboration with the PLO was particularly close, and members of both movements even fought side by side in Jordan during the events of Black September and trained together in Fatah camps in Lebanon".[70] On 3 August 1972, PMOI operatives bombed the Jordanian embassy in Tehran during King Hussein's state visit as an act of "revenge" for the events of Black September.
...to helping destroy Communist Afghanistan, Zia was the perfect "Muslim" that NATO desired so why would CIA arrange for his killing ?
 

SIPRA

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1. What wasn't he ready to quit ?

Position and power. He was President as well as COAS, with enormous powers and authority.

2. What were these American government plans he was interfering with ?

It is a common knowledge, well reported in Pakistani media of that time, that US and ZUH didn't see eye-to-eye, on the future political setup in Afghanistan, and the role of different Afghan factions in that setup. ZUH wanted far more role of Pakistani Establishment, in this respect; whereas US wanted to solely keep it with them, with some nominal role for Pakistan. This was also the key factor in removal of PM Junejo; since he went with US proposals. This was one of the key areas of conflict between ZUH and Junejo.

Why would the CIA approve of killing two of very senior American government officials ?

First thing is that, in my opinion, US didn't want to eliminate ZUH. They only wanted him to leave power, play golf and take rest. But, he was resisting and not ready to do it. So, the only way out was assassination.

Second thing is that US only gave approval/consent. CIA didn't execute it. May be, they provided some assistance, but the plan was solely executed by the local collaborators. (Note: There are some aspects of this assassination, which I wouldn't discuss on social media.)

As for the killing of 2 Americans; it was not intended, but accidental. In fact, all the people, killed in that crash, except for ZUH, were unintended and collateral damage. Planners and executers had not much of the choice. They got an opportunity, and they could not let it go.
 
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beijingwalker

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I visited the victims tombs in Beijing Babaoshan when I was a student

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1955年4月11日,克什米尔公主号执行包机任务,从印度经香港飞往印度尼西亚雅加达,原定乘载中共代表团前往万隆参加万隆会议。在香港启德机场停留期间,被国民党特工买通的一名启德机场清洁工按照其要求将炸药安上飞机。飞机在接近印尼海岸时爆炸,机上除3名机员生还外,11名乘客及5名机组人员罹难。由于周恩来临时改变路线,所以此次刺杀行动失败。

克什米尔公主号死难者 victims who were buries here
202209081662612705606264.jpg
 

SIPRA

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So either naive Nehru unknowingly or elitist Nehru knowingly put Indian crew at jeopardy ?

Don't forget. That was the time of "Hindi-Cheeni Bhai Bhai". May be Nehru was expecting, that, in very near future, Zhou Enlai would be wearing "dhoti" and "kurta", and chanting "bhajans". :lol:
 

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