Former project director of Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) Nambi Narayan has urged the secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), to reconsider the ministry’s decision to drop charges against a former official of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) RB Sreekumar and also order a fresh inquiry against the retired IPS officer.
In a letter to the union home secretary, Narayan alleged that Sreekumar not only falsely branded him a traitor but also physically tortured him while in custody. In 1994, the Kerala police registered cases under the Official Secrets Act of 1923 and other laws against Narayan and three others in what is called the Isro spy scandal. Although the case was registered by the Kerala police, the investigation was subsequently taken over by the IB. “At that relevant point of time RB Sreekumar was working as deputy director, Subsdiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB), Trivandrum and was in charge of the investigation...” Narayan has written. He said all the four persons implicated in the case were personally interrogated by Sreekumar.
Narayan has noted that “the cases were later transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The CBI further investigated the case with the help of Interpol and found that these were false and fabricated cases against all the persons. On 01.05.1995, the CBI submitted the closure report in the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court in Kochi. Myself and other three persons were freed with honour. The CBI reported to the MHA, Govt. of India and Govt. of Kerala about the shoddy investigation done by IB officials and Kerala police. The CBI in its report also proposed stern departmental action against the ‘delinquent IB officials’, which includes Mr Sreekumar also.
Actually, the Isro espionage case was pure imagination, wishful thinking and sensationalism.”
When contacted by dna, Sreekumar denied the allegations. He said has already replied to the “baseless charges”.
Narayan has stated that based on the recommendation of the CBI, the MHA on November 17, 1999, had issued a chargesheet to Sreekumar for departmental action against him. The chargesheet contained nine charges against him. They include physically taking over the possession of the accused persons from the lawful custody of the Kerala police without completing the legal formalities; torturing and ill-treating the accused persons; not preparing written statement of interrogation in respect of two persons, including Narayan; deliberately misrepresenting the facts causing irreparable loss to highly-respected scientists and this act on the part of Sreekumar as a supervisory member of the team reflected lack of proper supervision, integrity and devotion to duty on his part which is an act unbecoming of a member of the service under rule 3 (1) and rule 3 (2) of AIS (conduct) rules,1968.
Narayan said he came to know recently that the MHA had dropped seven charges against Sreekumar initially and the remaining two subsequently. The noted scientist said, “During my 36 years of service at various levels I am witness to various incidents where the foreign elements tried to penetrate Isro. I am extremely happy to say that they failed miserably in their attempts to influence Isro officials, but succeeded in influencing the IB. It is in the public domain that Ratan Sahgal, additional director of IB, during the Isro espionage case was himself operating at the behest of the CIA and in December 1996, the government forced him to compulsory retirement from service...”
Narayan has stated that even a “prima facie perusal of events and documents indicate that the MHA has blatantly violated the provision of law and maliciously/arbitrarily used them to exonerate an officer who is guilty of compromising national interest and responsible for colossal losses to the nation. Should such people go scot-free despite compromising national interest? Shouldn’t the nation hold them guilty and punish them... Instead of conducting a thorough enquiry against Sreekumar about his links with individuals and foreign-friendly NGOs, to my surprise such serious charges (against Sreekumar) were dropped by MHA. without conducting any inquiry which has no parallel in the history of police administration.”
Narayan has threatened to to drag the MHA to court if no action is taken against Sreekumar, who is also a former director-general of police, Gujarat.