The shooting down of the Malaysian airplane by a surface to air missile which killed 269 on board has sparked conspiracy theories. Russia is blaming the Ukrainians, Ukraine is blaming the Russians, and the separatist Russian rebels inside Ukraine are being blamed by others. The weapons system that shot down the plane was made in Russia. Russia, Ukraine and the rebels all had access to the weapons system. The actual shooting it is generally acknowledged could have been done only by the rebels who control territory where the plane was shot down. Conspiracy would exist if someone put up the rebels to commit the act. Did such a conspiracy exist? If so, who could be the conspirator? Speculation would be endless. But a few curious facts merit attention.
A transcript of conversation purportedly between the rebels and the Russian army intelligence officer controlling them was released by the Ukrainian government. In the dialogue the rebel says that the wrong plane was shot by them. By error they shot down a civilian plane. How did this transcript reach the Ukrainians? Was it leaked by the Russian authorities, by the rebels, or was procured through interception by either the Ukrainian authorities of by a third party? The dialogue suggests that a different non-civilian plane was the intended target.
Subsequently for almost an entire day the state owned Russian TV propagated a theory that the intended victim was President Putin whose plane was on the same route. But at the end of the day this theory was abandoned after it transpired that President Putin took an altogether different route. There was reportedly an Air India flight close on the heels of the Malaysian plane. But that too was a civilian plane. The only non civilian plane that took the same route a little after the shootout was the plane carrying Prime Minister Modi.
Several questions need credible answers. Was the transcript between the rebels and Russian Army intelligence genuine? How was it procured? Why did Russia’s state owned TV tried to project that President Putin was the target when the possibility did not exist? Was Prime Minister Modi the real target?
There are widespread demands that there should be a credible investigation of the plane shootout by giving full access to investigators from different nations to examine the site of the fallen plane in order to probe the crash. However the Indian government should demand that there should be a full fledged investigation of the conspiracy angle under the aegis of the United Nations in which governments concerned should be compelled to fully cooperate. Security concerns in the light of events make such a probe imperative.