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Demand Government Explanation of Deaths, Disappearance

March 20, 1987

LONDON (AP) _ Legislators are demanding an explanation from the government of what the mysterious deaths of two men doing secret defense work and the disappearance of a third could mean to Britain’s security.

The Times of London said Thursday that police were investigating possible links between the disappearance of Avtar Singh-Gida and the deaths of Vimal Dajibhai and Ashad Sharif, all computer specialists.

It said they were working on projects that could help locate submarines at extreme depths, and the work also had implications for the the U.S. space- based defense project commonly called ″Star Wars.″

According to the Times, Singh-Gida was seen last with a colleague near a reservoir in Derbyshire in northern England, where they were conducting an experiment in underwater acoustics.

They separated for lunch, Singh-Gida did not return and police divers found no body in the reservoir, the report said.

The paper did not say when he disappeared, but Derbyshire police have asked Interpol, the international police agency, to check his family addresses in India, Pakistan and Canada.

Singh-Gida’s wife Vali said at their home at Loughborough in the Midlands that she had no explanation for his disappearance.

Police were particularly concerned because of Singh-Gida’s friendship with Dajibhai, who died last August, the Times said.

Dajibhai worked for the electronics company Marconi, a major defense contractor, and spent three years perfecting computer programs on the Tigerfish air-to-sea missile, the Times reported.

It said he also worked on the Stingray. The report described the Stingray as the only missile able to locate a new Soviet attack submarine, codenamed ″Mike″ by the NATO alliance, that can launch weapons from a depth of more than 9,800 feet.

Jane’s Defense Weekly, the authoritative defense affairs magazine, reported in its latest edition: ‴Mike’ is a deep-diving boat with an exceptionally strong hull, possibly built of titanium, allowing her to fight at maximum depth.″

Dajibhai, who lived in northwest London, was found dead beneath the Clifton suspension bridge spanning the River Avon gorge at Bristol in western England.

The bridge is the scene of many suicides, but the Times said Dajibhai had no connection with Bristol and had been appointed to a new well-paid job with a computer company in London’s financial district shortly before his death.

Bristol Coroner Donald Hawkins recorded an open verdict, meaning he made no ruling on cause of death, after relatives and friends testified that Dajibhai had no reason for suicide.

Hawkins called for a police investigation after Sharif, another Marconi computer specialist, was found dead near Bristol two months later. He died after apparently tying one end of a rope to a tree, the other around his neck, getting into his car and driving off.

Hawkins, recording a verdict of suicide in that case, said there might be a link between the two deaths.

Police could find no connection and halted investigations, but legislator Eric Deakins of the opposition Labor Party said Wednesday night he was not satisfied.

″He (Sharif) was coming to see me about getting his fiancee in from Pakistan,″ Deakins said. ″It was a routine matter. I understand he had just been promoted at work and, with his fiancee soon to arrive, I can see no reason why he should commit suicide.″

John Cartwright, defense spokesman for the centrist Liberal-Social Democratic alliance, is one of a several legislators who have asked Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government for a statement on the security aspects.

″These deaths and the disappearance are stretching coincidence too far, especially when you consider the sensitive nature of the work these men were engaged on,″ Cartwright said.

The Times said: ″Members of Parliament are concerned because Britain is well ahead of the Soviet Union in research into the fields the men were working on.″

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