Conspiracy charges resurface in Isro spy case

Conspiracy charges resurface in Isro spy case

Former Isro scientist Nambi Narayanan speaks to the media, in Thiruvananthapuram. (PTI File Photo)

In October last year, when former Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) scientist S Nambi Narayanan released his biography "Ormmakalude Bhramanapadham" (The Orbit of Memories), he said a fresh probe into the 1994 spy scandal case could trace the role of forces outside of the country.

The 77-year-old scientist, falsely implicated in the case, has repeatedly pointed to a “larger conspiracy”, possibly involving foreign players. But more than two decades later, the case continues to steer discussions around faction-ridden politics of Congress party in the state.

With the Supreme Court ordering the state on Friday to pay Narayanan Rs 50 lakh as compensation, the political context of the scandal has resurfaced – all of it revolving around the contention that the scandal was a political conspiracy, orchestrated against the then chief minister, the late Congress leader K Karunakaran.

Following the apex court’s verdict, Padmaja Venugopal – Karunakaran’s daughter – herself has set off discussions by stating that five political leaders were behind the conspiracy which led to Karunakaran’s resignation as chief minister, in 1995. Padmaja’s statement has revived conspiracy theories, invariably pointing to former chief minister Oommen Chandy and his backers in the party’s A K Antony faction. Chandy has refused to comment on Padmaja’s statement. On Sunday, state Congress chief M M Hassan also avoided questions on the matter. In December last year, Hassan had expressed regret for having acted against Karunakaran.

The ruling CPM has also joined in. State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the SC order reasserted that the spy scandal was fabricated by Congress leaders to further factional interests, against Karunakaran.

Chandy and the Congress – and not the state – should pay the compensation, Balakrishnan said. “Padmaja should not succumb to pressure from the Congress and reveal the names (to the committee appointed to probe the frame-up),” he said.

K Muraleedharan, MLA and Karunakaran’s son, has maintained that his father was denied justice but has distanced himself from his sister’s charges.