Both the Intelligence Bureau and the Kerala Police claimed the secrets related to the highly confidential flight test data were leaked by the scientists, in exchange of money and the sex the women offered. Nambi Narayanan and Sasikumaran were arrested and spent over 50 days in jail. They were allegedly stripped naked and routinely tortured in inhuman ways by Kerala Police's special investigation team, headed by former Kerala DGP Siby Mathews.

The mass hysteria around the case created by some media organisations forced the then-Chief Minister K Karunakaran to resign in February 1995 and AK Anthony to take over. 

In May 1996, the charges against the scientists were dismissed as fraudulent by the Central Bureau of Investigation. In April 1998, the Supreme Court also dismissed the charges. In September 1999, the National Human Rights Commission passed strictures against the Kerala government for damaging Narayanan’s distinguished career along with the physical and mental torture to which he and his family were subjected.

More than 20 years on, Kerala government has still not complied the High Court order to pay Nambi Narayanan a compensation of Rs 10 lakhs. The govt dropped charges against police officials who falsely implicated the scientists while Siby Mathews went on to become the Chief Information Commissioner of Kerala. Nambi Narayanan is still fighting for justice and wants to expose the people behind the conspiracy.

Sabotage theory

The case not only finished the careers of India’s two exceptionally brilliant space scientists but also put India’s cryogenic engine development programme, which could have saved the country millions of dollars, on hold for around 20 years. Some inside sources have maintained that they see a foreign hand in the case. It would be interesting to note that the cryogenic engine technology would have enabled India to bring down the cost of access to space and develop our space programme, which was against Western interests.


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