Bangalore, June 30: The trail of Johann Bach, the alleged Nazi war criminal said to have been arrested from a Karnataka forest bordering Goa, has turned cold amid speculation that no such operation took place.
The Telegraph, which had received information on the purported operation from sources in the Intelligence Bureau, tried to follow up on the incident today only to hit a dead end.
The sources had not been able to provide the name of the concentration camp near Berlin where the 88-year-old Bach was said to have been an adjutant with the Waffen SS. Some reports today claimed the name of the concentration camp was Marsha Tikaah Wahnaab, but no such facility existed in Nazi Germany.
Neither the IB nor the police could shed any light on the whereabouts of the alleged war criminal who shares the name of one of the worlds greatest composers. Sources yesterday had said the man had been flown to Berlin, but it could not be established.
The Internet was abuzz with speculation through the day that the so-called arrest was a hoax played by some bloggers on the web.
A media release was emailed to journalists across Goa and Karnataka mentioning that the operation was spearheaded by Perus Narkp, the intelligence wing of the German Chancellors Corps.
It said Bach was arrested while he was trying to sell a priceless piano stolen from a German museum during the war. But no such organisation exists, and Perus Narkp also happens to be an anagram of super prank.
Intelligence sources had even said, in what was the piece de resistance, that the Israeli foreign office had informed their German counterparts that a former Nazi officer had surfaced on Goas beaches after lying low in Argentina (to where most wanted Nazi officers fled).
He had then moved to Canada, Bulgaria, Yemen and later to Goa. The email, the source of much of the information, also had a picture of some young SS officers facing the camera and Bach was identified as one of those sitting.
IB sources had yesterday confirmed that they had heard of such a joint operation but could not give enough details. The questions for which no answers were forthcoming were the name of the German intelligence officer who led the operation, the pianos details and the name and exact location of the concentration camp in which Bach had allegedly overseen the genocide.
The IB officials today acknowledged that it was too short a time to get such details, but did say that the story that was covered in several dailies was similar to the inputs put out by the IB.
R. Auradkar, inspector- general, Northern Range, said the police in Belgaum district (where Bach was allegedly picked up on Friday) had no such information.
We are not aware of any such incident on the Karnataka-Goa border. In fact, the Goa IG too rang me up today to ask if the Belgaum police had helped in the arrest of a fugitive Nazi. They were as clueless as me.
Auradkar, however, said he would not like to dismiss the news stories as the result of a rumour or a prank, as suggested in certain blogspots.