BJP National Spokesperson Smt. Meenakshi Lekhi
Former Gujarat DGP RB Srikunmar, known for his association with social activist Teesta Setalvad for raising issues related riots and encounters against Gujarat Government had alleged master-minded to the conspiracy brand a patriotic scientist Nambi Narayanan as a traitor and fabricated a case against him. Despite his heinous crimes affecting nation’s interest, most of the charges against him were dropped against him by UPA government.
During 1994, Srikumar was Deputy Director, SIB in Trivandrum and was entrusted the investigation in the ISRO espionage case. Srikumar not only branded Narayanan as traitor but also ill-treated him including physical torture and his remaining of jail for nearly 50 days.
In 1999, Government of India initiated disciplinary proceedings against the IPS officer and was served a chargesheet that include physically taking over the possession of the accused persons from the lawful custody of Kerala Police without completing legal formalities and conducted independent investigation disassociating the Kerala Police.
Srikumar was charged that he didn’t prepare written statement of interrogation in respect of two persons interrogated by the team, one of them being Narayanan. Besides, the interrogation statements were prepared by his team they were left unsigned and undated.
He failed to conduct verification about the veracity of the statements of the accused persons as recorded by the team of IB officers without assigning any reasons, which resulted in irreparable loss and humiliation to respectable scientists of ISRO and others, according to chargesheet.
Mathew John, Joint Director, IB (senior of RBS) sent a message stating that disclosures made by the accused persons were a mixture of truth, half truth and untruth. Thus, Srikumar was fully aware of the fact that investigation report prepared by his team was full of contradictions and statements of many accused did not match each other. Despite this, RBS did not conduct verifications of the disclosures made by the accused persons.
Narayanan, an Indian scientist of repute started his career way back in 1966 with Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), during the tenure of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai was heading ISRO. It was Sarabhai who sent him to Princeton University for further studies. Narayan, who completed his Ph.D, got attractive offers that include one from NASA, but he preferred to work for his country and adhered with ISRO.
It was Narayanan who introduced the Liquid Fuel Rocket Technology in India in early 1970, when former President of India A.P.J Abdul Kalam was scientist and his team was working on Solid Motors. His contribution in the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) that took Chandrayan-1 to the moon in 2008 was immense. Naturally the above facts suggest that Narayanan was one of the top scientists of India and was never enticed by the lucrative offers. Unfortunately, the fallout of the ISRO spy case led to a brilliant Rocket scientist losing his entire career and in the process, the nation suffered immensely.
It all started in 1994, when a Maldivian woman, Mariam Rasheeda, an alleged spy was arrested in October that year by Kerala Police. On Rasheeda’s ‘Confession’, K Chandrasekharan, an agent for the Russian Space Agency Glavkomos in India was arrested later on. Soon after a team of police arrested Dr. Nambi Narayan and another Maldivian woman, Fauzia Hassan, allegedly Raheeda’s handler.
In November 1994, then Congress (UDF) government in Kerala formed a special probe team headed by DIG Siby Mathews. A week after another ISRO scientist D. Sasikumaran was arrested from Ahmedabad, where he was posted. In the connection of this case, Police arrersted a Banglore based labour contractor S.K. Sharma.
In December 1994, the case was handed over to CBI. The official of central investigation agency questioned senior IPS official Raman Srivastava. The issue also became political as A.K. Antony started attacking his rival K. Karunakaran who was the then Kerala Chief Minister. In March 1995 K. Karunakaran was forced to quit as a Chief Minister over his refusal to suspend Srivastava. Antony took over as CM. Two months later CBI submitted closure report in a special court in Kochi.
By that time in June assembly elections came and Congress (UDF) lost elections; CPM-led LDF Government came to power. The new Government withdrew the consent given to the CBI to probe the case and decided on a reinvestigation by the State Police. In December 1995 Kerala High Court allowed the reinvestigation, which CBI challenged in the Apex Court. Supreme Court quashed the Kerala Government’s order to reinvestigate saying the move was against good governance. All accused were freed of the charges. Meanwhile Hassan and Rasheeda were released from jail.
In the year 2001National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) ordered an interim compensation of Rs. 10 lakh for Nambi Narayanan who sought Rs. 1 crore as damages. Kerala Government got a stay order on NHRC’s order. Nambi Narayanan moved a Division Bench of the High Court. In September 2012, Division Bench of the High Court vacated the stay and asked the Government to pay interim relief to Nambi Narayanan within three weeks. The Bench said the NHRC could continue the proceedings for the final hearing.
Interestingly by 2004 it was clear that ISRO spy case was a fabricated case done at the behest of individuals and enteritis inimical to the success of ISRO and India. Another thing was the many man who was single-handedly responsible for the fabrication of this case was none other than Srikumar.
However, things changed dramatically in the second half of 2004 when the UPA Government came to power.In an obvious quid pro quo, Srikumar was given a clean chit. On 13th December, 2004, MHA issued an order dropping 7 out of the 9 charges without even conducting any enquiry whatsoever. It is amazing as to how charges were dropped even without a written response & on oral submissions without even recording them in writing. In just about one month’s time, the entire process of appointing the presenting officer, enquiry officer, conducting and completing the enquiry, preparing and submitting the enquiry report, consideration of the enquiry report at various levels, and issuing the final order dropping the charges against Srikumar was completed. As a part of the quid pro-quo, RBS was expected to launch a tirade full of lies and untruths against the BJP Government in Gujarat for political reasons. Apparently, Srikumar was honored his part of the deal with his political suitors and he continues to do the same even today.
Intrestinly R.B. Sreekumar, in conversation with Rais Khan, ex aid of Teesta Setalvad, on 4.11.2010 admitted that “Teesta helped me when Charge sheet was given to me.”