Police officers behind fake ISRO spy case should be tried for treason

Lalit Shastri

“The IB officials and kerala police officers along with their bosses, who had framed ISRO Scientists D Sasikumar and S Nambi Narayanan and others in the ISRO espionage case, are guilty of sedition and should be tried and sentenced to death”.

This is the view shared by few of those who have been closely associated with ISRO and India’s space programme.

The CBI had held that many of the then police officials in Kerala were responsible for the illegal arrest of the two ISRO scientists.

On September 14, 2018, the Supreme Court of India had set up a three-member panel headed by Justice D.K. Jain, a former Supreme Court judge, and directed the Kerala Government to pay Rs 50 lakh as compensation to S Nambi Narayanan.

The High-level probe panel has now submitted its report to the apex Court on illegal arrest in the ISRO espionage case.

ISRO scientists D Sasikumar and Nambi Narayanan were accused in the ISRO espionage case by a number of Police and Intelligence Bureau officers, including IB’s Ratan Sehgal, who was later caught spying against India for CIA and has now settled in the USA. He was very close to former Vice President Hamid Ansari. Sehgal was supported to the hilt by superiors  officers and was allowed a smooth exit from service in 1996, when he was caught clandestinely meeting CIA officials in Delhi.

Former Gujarat Police Chief RB Sreekumar, is another police officer, who was in IB in 1994 when Nambi was accused of selling classified information about the cryogenic engine to foreign agents.Sreekuumar was also after the Modi led Gujarat Government and was instrumental in blowing up the 2002 Gujarat riot and Ishrat Jehan encounter cases. He had even filed a defamation and criminal conspiracy case against Narendra Modi (when he was the prime ministerial candidate),  Rajnath Singh (Union Defense Minister and the then BJP President) Nambi Narayanan and BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi, accusing them of hatching a conspiracy and raising the issue of the ISRO spy case ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha election.

In May 1992, a key Senate committee had voted to block further U.S. economic aid to  Russia if Moscow went ahead with a $250-million rocket sale linked with the India’s cryogenic engine development programme. This was against India’s interst as India’s efforts to acquire the Cryogenic engine from Russia was aimed at putting it’s space programme at another level by advancing from the PSLVs to GSLVs.

Former Director Sace Application Centre Tapan Misra writes – “Nambi was sent to police custody, subjected to inhuman torture for months to extract confession. I am sure, senior police officers would have enrolled themselves in the stratagem. The worst part was the indifference of his colleagues and bosses to his predicament”.

Though not directly connected, but the finger of suspicion as far as the act of ommission or commission is concerned, also points to former ISRO Chief Kasturirangan, especially from what Nambi revealed earlier in an interview. In Nambi’s own words:

“ April 1994, K Kasturirangan assumed office as the chairman of ISRO. I was the deputy director of VSSC. Our director was the senior-most person eligible for the post of chairman, and I had expected a promotion as director. I had informed the chairman in advance that I will opt for VRS if I don’t get the promotion. I submitted the VRS application on August 1994 and the espionage case was registered on October 20”.

It should be noted that the (false) spy case comes under the Official Secrets Act and under its provisions, Kerala Police had no authority to investigate it without taking consent from Government of India. It appears that Kasturirangan as Secretary DOS, wittingly or unwittingly, ended up helping Kerala police to proceed and torture two senior officials of LPSC of ISRO without any consultation with Dr AE Muthunayagam, the Director of LPSC. It has come to light that there was even an attempt to arrest Muthunayagam in the espionage case and this raises the question whether or not there was a plan to remove him and other senior officials of LPSC, especially as Muthunayagam was once senior to Kasturirangan in ISRO and was his competitor for the top position.


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