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The crash of Air India Boeing 707 in January 1966 into Mont Blanc in the Swiss Alps killed 117 onboard, including the head of India's nuclear establishment Homi Bhabha, however, recent reports suggest that the CIA might have had a role to play in the unfortunate accident.
A conversation that took place between a journalist Gregory Douglas and a CIA officer Robert T Crowley on July 11, 2008, hinted at an involvement of the US intelligence agency in the crash that killed Homi Bhabha who had been flying to Vienna to attend a meeting.
The CIA officer was quoted as saying by Times of India, "We had trouble, you know, with India back in the 60's when they got uppity and started work on an atomic bomb...the thing is, they were getting into bed with the Russians.''
Referring to Homi Bhabha, he added, "that one was dangerous, believe me. He had an unfortunate accident. He was flying to Vienna to stir up more trouble when his Boeing 707 had a bomb go off in the cargo hold....''
According to experts, Bhabha was convinced that for India to become a major force to reckon with, it had to launch a nuclear programme with a focus on its peaceful applications in fields such as power, agriculture, and medicine. However, Bhabha also had a hidden agenda, to develop an atomic bomb to defend the country.
In October 1965, Bhabha had announced over All India Radio that if he got the clearance, India could make a nuclear bomb in 18 months.
Although Bhabha died in the plane crash in 1966, his dream of an atomic bomb for India was fulfilled when India tested its first atomic bomb codenamed 'Smiling Buddha' at Pokharan on May 18, 1974.