Political interests, skewed probe covered up ISRO spy case: R&AW ex-officer

Thiruvananthapuram: There was substance in the 1994 ISRO spy case, and Maldivian national Mariam Rasheeda visited the country to carry out espionage activities, alleged a former Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) officer.

Former R&AW field officer Rajesh Pillai expressed hope that the probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) would bring out the truth. He was responding after the Supreme Court of India ordered the CBI to further probe the findings of the Jain Committee Report.

The three-member committee, headed by former apex court judge Justice (retired) D K Jain, looked into the roles of former Kerala police officers implicating Dr S Nambi Narayanan, formerly a scientist with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The Supreme Court had acquitted Dr Narayanan and awarded a compensation of Rs 50 lakh for the immense humiliation the case had caused him. The case pertained to the alleged transfer of confidential Indian space programme documents by ISRO scientists to two Maldivian women.

Pillai claimed that political and group interests covered-up the espionage case. After the visit of the prime minister and CBI director to Kerala, R&AW was forced to wind up its probe after 20 days.

R&AW had advance information about Rasheeda’s plan to enter the country via the Trivandrum airport, and its officers were asked to detain her. Pillai was then the R&AW officer posted at the airport.

Nambi Narayanan
Nambi Narayanan

Pillai said that another country, not Pakistan, was behind the espionage move. R&AW agents in that country alerted their colleagues here and asked them to keep Raheeda under surveillance. The former officer said the espionage was not aimed at the cryogenic technology alone. It had more interests, he added.

He said the culprits escaped after the attempt got a political conspiracy angle that ruled out the espionage bid. The case is still alive since there is truth in it, he said, adding that it would not end without revealing the truth.

The then CBI probe was merely to prove the State police and Intelligence Bureau wrong, Pillai alleged. The CBI had termed 'false' Dr Narayanan’s allegation of an international conspiracy to cause a setback to India’s advancement in cryogenic technology. The CBI’s finding was not true, Pillai said, adding that the central investigation agency could bring out the truth if it conducted a probe without prejudice.

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