The recent offering of SonyLiv, Rocket Boys, took us back in the days of pre–independence India when two renowned Indian scientists – Homi Bhabha (Jim Sarbh) and Vikram Sarabhai (Ishwak Singh) – were envisioning the nuclear programme and space research in the nation. 


During World War-II, Bhabha, who was internationally recognised for his work with cosmic rays, was back in India. He joined the Nobel Laureate C.V. Raman in the Indian Institute of Science and eventually founded the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Bombay.

The first instalment of the period-drama series came to an end with Bhabha acknowledging the fact that he has risked his life doing his job. And, as we all might know, India lost its nuclear energy pioneer in a plane crash on 24 January 1966. The Air India flight 101 from Bombay to New York, which had Bhabha on board, crashed into Mont Blanc in the Alps, killing all 117 passengers. 

India Today

The history of today’s Nuclear Weapons program of the country can be traced back to the establishment of the Atomic Energy Commission in 1948 with Dr. Homi J. Bhabha as its first chairman.

The news of his death came three months after he announced that India can make an an atom bomb in 18 months.

However, conspiracy theories, which are thick on the ground, also indicated towards involvement of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the alleged assassination plan, carried out to prevent India from becoming a nuclear-powered nation.

The visionary scientist believed that for India to emerge as superpower, the country has to expand its nuclear potentiality and in the process an atom bomb, as a safeguarding measure. 


Back in 2017, a Swiss climber, Daniel Roche found remains of an aircraft in the Alps. Initially, Roche, who is an aviation disaster enthusiast, broached the idea of the 1966 flight being downed by a missile. Evidently, the statement fuelled countless conspiracy theories. However, later he endorsed that the Air India flight crashed after colliding with another aircraft.

Conspiracy theories

In 2008, an alleged conversation between CIA officer Robert Crowley and journalist Gregory Douglas established a connection of the American intelligence agency in Homi Bhabha’s demise. The transcripts of a telephone discussions published in the book titled Conversations with the Crow suggested that CIA eliminated both Bhabha and Shastri to paralyze India’s nuclear program.

“That one [Homi Bhabha] 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, And they all fell on a high mountain in the Alps. No real evidence left and the world became much safer. 

– Robert Crowley

At the time, it was our best shot. And we nailed Shastri as well. Another cow-loving raghead. Gregory, you say you don‘t know about these people. Believe me, they were close to getting a bomb and so what if they nuked their deadly Paki enemies? 

– Robert Crowley

Navbharat Times

Following the Sino-Indian war, the Indian government began to focus on nuclear weaponry under Bhabha’s supervision and with support of then Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri. Strangely, Shastri died allegedly under mysterious circumstances a day after he signed the Tashkent agreement. And 13 days later, Homi Bhabha, too, died in the crash. 

To this date, the official records state the cause of death of one of its greatest scientific thinkers as a plane crash. But if conspiracy theorists are to be believed, over 100 passengers were killed to murder one person. And that, if true, is truly sinister.