CBI books 18 policemen in 1994 Isro fake spy case

Updated on Jun 25, 2021 04:27 AM IST

This comes two months after the Supreme Court ordered the CBI to probe into the conspiracy behind the framing while calling the matter “serious” that required “deeper investigation” into the role of the officers responsible

Former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan. (File photo)
Former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan. (File photo)
By, Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday filed a First Information Report (FIR) against former Kerala police chief Sibi Mathew, former Intelligence Bureau deputy director R B Sreekumar and 16 other police personnel over an alleged conspiracy to frame Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientist Nambi Narayanan in a 1994 espionage case.

The filing of the FIR comes two months after the Supreme Court ordered CBI to investigate the conspiracy behind the framing, calling the matter “serious” and requiring“deeper investigation” into the role of the officers responsible. It accepted the report of a committee constituted by the court in 2018 to probe the circumstances that led to the framing. Narayanan, 79, was arrested in 1994 in the alleged espionage case. He was exonerated two years later following a CBI closure report.

The accused police personnel have been charged with conspiracy, framing of false evidence, and illegal custody. “As per the directions of the Supreme Court, the agency has registered a case against 18 persons,” CBI spokesman R C Joshi said.

Narayanan said the country suffered badly due to the case. “The cryogenic project (of ISRO) was delayed. Let conspiracy come out,” he said.

Some of the accused said they were not heard by the Supreme Court-appointed Jain Commission. “I will move the court,” said S Vijayan, who is among the accused and allegedly tortured Narayanan in police custody.

Sreekumar, a former Gujarat cadre India Police Service officer who was on deputation with the Intelligence Bureau when the case surfaced, has said he had no role in it. HT could not reach Sreekumar for his comments on the FIR.

Mathew said he was not heard by the Jain Commission. “Hope the CBI will give me enough time to put forward my contention,” said Mathew.

Police arrested Narayanan and Sasikumaran Nair after their numbers were found in a dairy recovered from two Maldivian women arrested in 1994 on charges of overstaying in the country. Narayanan and Nair were later charged with espionage before they were acquitted in 1995 after a CBI inquiry.

The Supreme Court ordered compensation for Narayanan and constituted the committee that recommended a central agency probe the conspiracy angle.

The state government paid 1.80 crore to Narayanan as compensation. He was decorated with the country’s third-highest civilian honour, Padma Bhushan, in 2019.

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    Ramesh Babu is HT’s bureau chief in Kerala, with about three decades of experience in journalism.

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