ISRO Spy Case – Story of a Space Scientist

ISRO Spy Case

ISRO Spy Case : Nambinarayan

Nambinarayan who was the main accuse of infamous ISRO Spy Case is that unsung hero of India who was one of the brightest scientist of the country at that his time. He had served all of his life for India but this country failed to recognised  his works, instead of recognising, tagged him as a Anti-national or more correctly tagged as a Spy who helped Pakistan by selling ISRO’s research work.

You may heard of his name for all of the wrong reasons but most of the Indians, educated to uneducated never heard his name. He never was fanboy of limelight, he had chosen the simple life and devote himself to serve India .

Notable Work for ISRO :

Nambinarayan introduced the liquid-fuel-rocket-technology in India in the early 1970s. He anticipated the need for liquid fuelled engines for ISRO’s future space programmes. Then ISRO chairman Satish Dhawan, and his successor U.R. Rao fully supported Nambinarayan’s vision.

Nambinarayan developed liquid propellant motors, 600-kg thrust engine in the mid-1970s and then started working to build bigger engines.

After working for 20 years, with French scientists, his team developed the Vikas engine used by several ISRO rockets including the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle(PSLV) that took Chandrayaan-1 to the moon in 2008. The Vikas engine is used in the second stage of PSLV and as the second and the four strap-on stages of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

Espionage charges : Nambi Tagged as a SPY-1994

Let me bring up those pieces of incidents that changes his life for forever and that destroyed his life/career.


In 1994 ISRO started working with the newly transferred technology from Russia to  fabricate the engines of the rockets with cryogenic technology. Nambinarayan was the director of that project and he was working day and night to complete the project by 2000 so that india can focus only focus on Satellites .

Suddenly  ISRO come to the news for a wrong reason. Two Maldivian intelligence officers, Mariam Rasheeda and Fauzia Hassan was arrested with few documents which was related to the cryogenic project. ISRO Spy Case

Investigation started and Intelligence Bureau(IB) charged Nambinarayan &  D Sasikumaran for leaking vital defence secrets to Maldivians to sell the document for millions to Pakistan. S.K. Sharma, a Bangalore-based labour contractor for ISRO; and K. Chandrasekhar, the Indian representative of the Russian space agency Glavkosmos were also arrested .IB started searching in house house but did not find anything that can prove the allegation.ISRO Spy Case

Nambi sent to jail and spend 50 days. He said in several interviews that two IB officers who interrogated him for the allegation, pressurize him to name top ISRO officers .He alleges that two IB officials had asked him to implicate A.E.Muthunayagam, his boss and then Director of the Liquid Propulsion System Centre (LPSC) .He refused to take any name, then they started torturing him till the point he collapsed and was hospitalized. His biggest regret is that ISRO never supported him in this whole situation. Even Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan, who was ISRO chairman of that time said that  ISRO could not interfere in a legal matter.

A new turn in the Espionage case :

In May 1996, the charges were dismissed by the Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) and described the charges as  a false allegation. The charges were also dismissed by the Supreme Court of India in April 1998 stating it as career destroying false allegation. In September 1999, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) passed strictures against the Kerala government for having damaged Narayanan’s distinguished career in ISRO along with the physical / mental torture to which he and his family were subjected. Even though Nambi and Sasikumar were identified as  not-guilty, ISRO transferred them out of Thiruvananthapuram and were given desk job.

In 2001, NHRC ordered the Kerala State Government to pay him a compensation of ₹ 1 crore.

His research career was over and he decided to retire in 2001. No compensation can fulfil his dream and bring back the respect he lost at that time.

The Kerala High Court granted a compensation amount of Rs 10 lakhs for Nambi Narayanan based on the appeal from NHRC  in September 2012.

On 3 October 2012, The Hindu Reported that Kerala Government has dropped charges against police officials who falsely interrogated

Nambinarayan in the espionage case .The irony is that within few day of allegation Nambi was arrested without any prove but no action had been taken by the Kerala government in the 15 years for those police and IB officers who interrogated Nambi and his team.

Read More :


The top officer involved in the case, Siby Mathews then become the Chief Information Commissioner in Kerala.ISRO Spy Case

Nambi mentioned in his several interviews that a external force influenced  the whole situation to stop the cryogenic project in ISRO. As a part of that conspiracy Nambi and few member of his team was arrested so that project got suspended anyhow. The big powers like USA and France never liked the success of ISRO at hat time. If ISRO got the success to complete the project, India would become a bright contender to take the space research movement into another level.

whatever the reason may be, ultimately few important years was lost and narayan started suffering from permanent troma as his career, passion, work everything was snatched from his life. The beauty of our beloved country India is that  if you once identified as a anti-national or government alleged you for no reason as a anti- nation you will forever be a anti-national. Even if you marked as innocent and not-guilty the media to Aam Admi everyone will suspect you as a threat and troll you like anything for forever, tag you as a national . This is a example where an allegation  destroyed a life like many other minorities who are often identified as terrorist or anti nation. If you start question the government and if you belong from lower class or minority class , the power will arrest you to zip your mouth.It’s really a easy task for Government to link someone with Pakistan and put him into the jail to destroy his life and to gain cheap votes in election campaigns.

Once S.K. Sharma told Frontline(From the publishers of THE HINDU):

“No one can compensate us. Nobody can even imagine how we and our families were made to suffer. I had never been to Kerala. My only mistake was that I knew Chandrasekhar. For that I was arrested and made to suffer. Exactly a year after my arrest, my father, who had come to console me, died of a heart attack. He had served in the Indian Army for well over 30 years.”

This is how we awarded a army family and a ISRO member for our incompetency in investigation system.

Sasikumaran told Frontline(From the publishers of THE HINDU):

“For us individually, and for our families, it was indescribable misery. It is a miracle that we all came out of it, but I would not say, unscathed.”

Nambinarayanan told Frontline(From the publishers of THE HINDU):

“I had lost all hope. Somebody had said Nambinarayanan had swallowed an elephant and nobody was asking how or whether it was possible? I was arrested on November 30, and on December 1 one of the senior most space scientists in the country had rung up my daughter to say ‘If somebody says that documents were sold for monetary benefit for transfer of technology, then they are cheating themselves.’ Those who know understand that the so-called espionage was not possible. But I was appalled at the lack of knowledge about technology or transfer of technology or even about what constituted espionage among the people who were sitting in judgment over me.”

The above words may bring tears in your eyes, but we Indians are so emotional fool that we will forget  everything with a Facebook propaganda or a cheap photo posted by Political Troll Army.

Also Read :

Now one question may arise in you head, who conspired with Narayana?? What was their interest? Is Indian govt anyhow connected??

Let me present you a sequence of incidents which may help you to understand  by yourself what actually happened at that 90.

In 1992, India and Russia signed a agreement to transfer the technology to develop cryogenic-based fuels. India paid Russia 235 crore for this deal, when the USA and France offered the same technology for Rs 950 & 650 crore respectively. As USA did not got the tender, president George H. W. Bush was not so happy. President Bush wrote to Russia, raising objections against the agreement and even threatened to blacklist the Russia from the select-five club. Boris Yeltsin ,then Russia precedent, succumbed to the pressure and denied cryogenic technology to India. Yeltsin was not that much bold like president like Vladimir Putin. To bypass this monopoly, India and  Russia came to an agreement to fabricate four cryogenic engines after floating a global tender without a formal transfer of technology. ISRO had already reached a consensus with Kerala Hitech Industries Limited which would have provided the cheapest tender for fabricating engines.

There is now proved document or investigation report but you can identity the power who never wanted ISRO to get success or Nambi to complete the project .They conspiracy worked. The extended completion date of the project was 2000 but India completed it in 2014. That Spy case push back ISRO for almost 15 years and ISRO will forever lagging for 15 years.

ISRO Spy Case

Demand For justice :

On 7 November 2013, Narayanan called for a media conference to demand the justice in this case and wanted to expose them who were behind this conspiracy and said that this case will ‘discourage’ the youth.

How Nambi’s name arise in the news in recent past :

On 14 September 2018, The Supreme Court appointed a three-member panel headed by its former judge to probe the “harrowing” arrest and alleged torture of former space scientist Nambi Narayanan in the ‘ISRO spy scandal‘ that turned out to be fake.

A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also awarded Mr. Narayanan Rs. 50 lakh in compensation for the “mental cruelty” he suffered all these years.

One thing that I want to express in this last pars is –

Open your mind, leave a mark, start seeing the thing from a different  angle, think in a different way to face another prospective that may oppose with your opinion……

In a straight cut way Nambi was the guilty but if you start stitching the pieces you will understand  how big was that conspiracy was…


Raj Akbar

I am Raj Akbar.Entering in this new digital era with my passion for writing

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