(By Our Special Correspondent)
The mystery surrounding the explosion which blew up the Bharatiya Steam Ship “Indian Enterprise” in Red Sea off the Arabian Coast a jew days ago has been partly cleared by a close examination of the statement of Hussain, a Pakistani national, and the sole survivor of the total crew of 71, in the light of the information contained in a letter written by an Indian officer of the Ship, Mr. Jagjit Bali, to his father just a few hours before the explosion. It makes clear that the explosion was the result of sabotage for which the government of Bharat is more to blame for its criminal negligence than the saboteur who risked his life for his country to harm Bharat.
Kashmir Problem on Last Legs?
The long drawn Kashmir issue which has been kept in the balance for so long by the Security Council of the U.N. because a clear cut and speedy decision against the aggressor did not suit the Anglo-American interests now appears to be on its last legs. The Korean was and the non-committal attitude of Bharat towards it seems to have made the Americans anxious about solving the Kashmir problem which, it is feared, might become a cause of a dangerous rift in the Commonwealth if the present policy of indecision is continued longer. That, according to the political circles here, explains Sir Owen Dixon’s appeal to the press for co-operation and his announcement about the tripartite talks with Bharat and Pakistan soon after the return of Mr. Liaqat Ali Khan from U.S.A. It is expected here that U.S.A. will put pressure on Pakistan to accept a peaceful compromise solution of the Kashmir problem which is expected to give a foothold to the Anglo-American dominated U.N. in the strategitically important parts of the State which happen to be the main bone of contention between Bharat and Pakistan.
The ship was carrying more than 500 tons of explosive for the government of Bharat. The loading had been done with extreme all possible precautions to ensure safety of the ship and the cargo. Smoking had been strictly prohibited on the ship which did not call at any non-British Empire part in the way. When it stopped at Port Said for refueling it was perfeetly O K. But just four hours after leaving that port when it had hardly covered a distance of 252 miles the ship suddenly blew up to pieces leaving no survivor except the Pakistani Hussain.
According to Hussain’s statement the explosion took place when he had gone on the deck at mid night to smoke a cigarette in disregard of the strict prohibitory orders of the Ship’s captain. Probably he had climbed the mast of the ship because that alone can explain why he was thrown into the sea only with burns on his body while none else could escape alive.
This clearly shows that the explosion took place suddenly by the bursting of some time-bomb or some other explosive of that type. Probably the saboteurs got the stuff into the ship at Port-Said with the connivance of some among the crew of the ship itself. This could be easily possible because about 50 of the crew of the ship were Muslims and some of them were Pakistani nationals.
The negligence of the government of Bharat lay in two things. In the first place it is positively dangerous and impolitic to import explosives in commercial freighters on the crew of which the government have no control. If that was unavoidable the government should have been careful to draft security staff or some CID personnel to the ship to watch the movements and actions of Pakistani shipmen whose evil intentions towards Bharat have been authoritatively exposed by no less a man than Dr. Meghnad Saha recently.
What at is worse no steps were taken by the Government of Bharat to ascertain the real cause of the explosion even after it had taken place. The first to make investigations into the matter were some members of the British Security staff who flew down to Suez immediately after getting the news of the explosion. They have also come to the conclusion that the explosion was a case of sabotage.
It is for the government of Bharat to explain the cause of this criminal negligence in taking no security precautions on the ship and callous indifference about the fate of the ship, its crew and the valuable cargo after the explosion had taken place. n