'ISRO let me down': former space scientist

New Delhi (ISJ): As Indian space scientists celebrated the successful launch of GSLV-D5 powered by the indigenous Cryogenic engine in early January, someone who would have put India in the exclusive Cryogenic Club twelve to thirteen years ago, spent his time in mental agony. Nambi Narayanan, who was heading Indian Space Research Organisation, ISRO's cryogenic project would have been credited for putting India in that club, but for a trumped up espionage case in 1994, until the Supreme Court had exonerated and reinstated him.

As India mastered the technology, which powered the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-D5 carrying a 1982 kg. communication satellite GSAT-14, the serving space scientists received pats from every quarters. But ISRO never thought of the man, who laid the foundation for the cryogenic project in India at the risk of his life and his career.

"They (ISRO) have not remembered Vikram Sarabhai, the father of rocket technology in India, on his first death anniversary. It has happened with Sarabhai and I am nobody," lamented Narayanan in a telephonic interview to Indian Science Journal from his home in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. � "The entire organisation went ahead, as if I am not in existence for them," said Narayanan about the treatment from the present brass of ISRO. "In difficult circumstances, even at the risk of my life, against the advice of people who matters, I did it and that resulted in the delayed success of cryogenic engine."

Narayanan's team developed the Vikas engine with French assistance. Vikas, named after Vikram A. Sarabhai is still in use including the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), that launched India's maiden Moon Mission, Chandrayaan 1 in 2008.

"I was prevented from developing and delivering it," he said. "I did the best in the interest of the country, but there were some people who did their best to meet the requirement of their bosses sitting somewhere." � India's tryst with cryogenic technology dates back to 1991, when it contracted to receive it from the then Soviet Union. After the disintegration of USSR, the Russians came under US pressure and backed out from its commitment from sale and transfer of technology.� � The US charged, India would develop missiles using cryogenic engines.

"No missile in the world uses cryogenic technology, not even in the US," said Nambi Narayanan, saying cryogenic engines cannot be assembled at short notice.

The US intelligence agency CIA was believed to have conspired with some elements in Indian establishment to fabricate the 'espionage' theory, as Washington wanted to stop India's plans to master the cryogenic technology.

The former space scientist was equally or more scornful about the role of Kerala Police and the intelligence agencies in implicating him.

?Those six days ? from November 30, 1994 ? till the CBI took over, was the most tortuous and unimaginable days I have gone through,? recounted Naryanan. ?I suspect it was a planned fabrication though I didn?t know it in the beginning.? � ?Even the media played into the hands of investigative agencies,? said Narayanan as he is still fighting the legal battle against those who falsely implicated him and shattered his life and career. ?I will not allow them go scot-free.?

The Oomen Chandy government in Kerala had closed the recommendation of CBI, seeking action against three police officials, who probed the case for their ?unprofessional conduct?. Narayanan had also filed a case against a former official of the intelligence bureau for falsely implicating him in the case.� � The former space scientist is now planning to expose the role of villains in the ?espionage? scandal in a book very shortly.


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