Monday, Oct 03, 2022

A Wayward Rocket

BJP digs up the ISRO spy case, a scientist faces a bitter past

A Wayward Rocket A Wayward Rocket

The Spy Who Never Was

  • December 1994 ISRO spy scandal hits headlines. Scientists Nambi Narayanan and D. Sasikumaran accused of selling cryogenic technology. Two Maldivian women dragged into the case.
  • 1995 Kerala CM Karunakaran resigns
  • 1996 CBI clears Narayanan’s name, reinstated in ISRO
  • 1998 SC acquits all accused
  • 1999 Narayanan files compensation suit
  • 2001 NHRC orders state govt to pay Rs 1 crore compensation
  • 2012 HC orders immediate payment of interim relief, Rs 10 lakh paid
  • 2013 BJP rakes up issue in its tirade against R.B. Sreekumar


Politics has a habit of dredging up old dirt. The scandal that shook the political and scientific establishment in Kerala long ago—the 1994 ISRO spy case—is back in news. The case had not only ruined the careers of senior scientists Nambi Naraya­nan and D. Sasikumaran but also led to the fall of the K. Karu­nakaran-led Con­gress governm­ent and cast aspersions on former DGP Ramon Srivastava. The charges against the scientists were dismissed in ’96 and was thrown out by the Sup­reme Court in ’98. Activist-lawyer A. Jayashankar says, “It was a conspiracy between certain media hou­ses and groups within the Con­gress. The media blew it out of proportion. It was tragic that good scientists like Nara­yanan and Sasi­kumaran were dragged into this.”