February 22, 2020
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'It Could've Been A Conspiracy'

D. Sasikumaran, a top scientist acquitted in the ISRO scandal, is keen to get back to the cryogenic project on which he was working before the probe. Excerpts from an interview with Venu Menon:

'It Could've Been A Conspiracy'

You have been exonerated by the court. Has the case set you back professionally?

I am keen to get back to my job slot. I was the man responsible for realising the cryogenic engine in terms of fabricating and manufacturing it. I want to come back to the cryogenic project. Because of the case I was transferred to the satellite application centre at Ahmedabad, which has nothing  to do with the cryogenic project.

Was India's commercial interest at stake when you and Nambi Narayan were removed from your posts?

China walked away with contracts India could have got. India has the potential to be a major player in the world market for the 500 kg satellite. We could have quoted prices well below the US and France. If the launch vehicle programme is delayed, someone else benefits. At the time I was in charge of the PSLV-4th stage liquid engine while Nambi was in overall charge of the cryogenic project.

It has been suggested that the ISRO case was the result of an international conspiracy to slow down India's progress in satellite technology.

It is a pursuable theory. When the case broke, the local IB chaps were satisfied that we had nothing to do with it. But the IB men from Delhi came with fixed ideas which they wanted to build up.

What was your connection with Mariam Rasheeda?

It was purely social contact. I have no restriction on interacting with anyone. It is my right and I will continue to do so.

You had access to documents not . pertaining to your department?

ISRO is like any other government organisation. If it wants to buy a product, it approaches the market. Anybody who buys a tendering document gets all the information, including the drawings. ISRO technologies are available to any Indian. As far as documents are concerned, it is a totally free flow situation at ISRO.

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