'There was a political conspiracy to bring down my father in the ISRO case': Padmaja

The Supreme Court delivered its verdict in the infamous ‘ISRO spy case’ on Friday morning, responding to a plea filed by former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan against police officers who had investigated the fabricated espionage case against him that destroyed his career 24 years ago. The Supreme Court said that the "arrest of ISRO scientist Nambi Narayan was needless and unnecessary”, and granted him Rs 50 lakh compensation.

Speaking to reporters after the Supreme Court’s verdict, former Kerala Chief Minister K Karunakaran’s daughter and current general secretary of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee Padmaja Venugopal has asserted that she believes there was a political conspiracy behind the ISRO spy case, designed to destroy her father’s political career.

The events of the ISRO case, and protests from the Congress (A) group faction against the CM, led to four-time Chief Minister of Kerala K. Karunakaran stepping down from the post, making way for his long-time political rival AK Antony to take up the post.

She told reporters that Karunakaran was targeted by rival politicians at an opportune time, given that he was in an emotionally fragile state following the recent death of his wife Kalyanikutty Amma in 1993. While Venugopal didn’t take any names, she asserted that there were 5 politicians, all still active in political life today, who were responsible for trapping Karunakaran in this case and orchestrating his political downfall.

She hinted that she would not name the five politicians she had in mind before the media for fear of political retribution, but said that she has faith in the judiciary and would be willing to provide these names to the Court if required in further investigations in order to clear her father’s name. She said that while one of the scientists embroiled in the controversy, Nambi Narayanan, had filed his plea against the police officers who investigated his case, it was clear that police wouldn’t have pursued such a fraudulent case without receiving political instruction to do so.

The case

The original case, dating back to 1994, began with the arrest of a Maldives native named Mariam Rasheeda on October 20, 1994 for overstaying her visa. She was then found to be connected to ISRO scientist D Sasikumar, and her friend Fauzia Hassan was also soon arrested. A Special Investigation Team took over the case in November 1994, and arrested ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan, and Bangalore-based businessmen Chandrasekharan and SK Sharma. They were accused of selling ISRO's cryogenic programme secrets to the women who were allegedly acting as spies for Russia, ISI and others.

The Supreme Court has now asked for the setting up three-member panel, headed by former Supreme Court justice DK Jain, to investigate the framing of Narayanan in the spy case.

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