The Department of Atomic Energy revealed that eleven of India’s nuclear scientists died unnatural deaths during a four year period from 2009-13 in the country. It was responding to an RTI query filed by Haryana-based Rahul Sehrawat. The department had responded on September 21, PTI reports.
Shockingly, eight of them died in blasts or hanging or drowning in the sea.
The eight worked in laboratories and research centres of the Department died in a blast or by hanging or drowning in the sea. The remaining three scientists of Nuclear Power Corporation had died under mysterious circumstances – two allegedly committed suicide and one died in a road accident. Two female scientists, 27-year-old Titus Pal and 63-year-old Uma Narasimha Rao, allegedly committed suicide in their residences in 2010. They worked at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Trombay.
The police claimed that Uma Narasimha Rao committed suicide because of prolonged illness and depression
and closed the case. But her colleagues and family members contested the police version. Pal was found hanging in her residence. One scientist of the C-group (the same grade as of the two at BARC) was found dead at his residence in 2012. He was posted at Rawatbhata, Rajasthan.
Another scientist, Lokanathan Mahalingam, allegedly committed suicide by jumping into Kali river in Karwar, according to Karnataka with police, which the scientist’s family refused to believe.
On June 8, 2009, the 47-year-old senior scientific officer went on a morning walk and never returned. Five days later, his decomposed body was found in the Kali River.
Lokanathan Mahalingam had access to some of the country’s most sensitive nuclear information. His death is one of the most complicated and mysterious cases among India’s nuclear scientists. In 2010 two research fellows, Umang Singh and Partha Pratim Bag, died in a mysterious fire in the chemistry lab of BARC. A scientist of F-grade was found murdered at his residence in Mumbai. It is suspected that he was strangulated but the murder accused remained untraced till date. A D-grade scientist at Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT) in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, Tirumala Prasad Tenka, also allegedly committed suicide with police closing the case. Another scientist posted at Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu allegedly jumped into the sea to end his life in 2013 with the case is still under probe whereas a Mumbai based scientist committed suicide by hanging, with police citing personal reasons for the same.
These were just 11 of an unusually high number of deaths of scientists and researchers in nuclear and defence areas.
KK Joshi and Abhish Shivam, engineers on indigenous nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant, were found dead on railway tracks in Visakhapatnam in October 2013.
Though police maintain they found no suspicious marks on the bodies, reports say the men were not crushed by a train. On February 23, 2010, M Iyer, an engineer working with the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, was found dead in his residence with internal hemorrhaging to his skull. The police couldn’t work out how Iyer had suffered internal injuries while not displaying any cuts or bruises. In a PIL filed in the Bombay High Court, activist Chetan Kothari has claimed that a number of India’s nuclear scientists have been dying under mysterious circumstances and the police are classifying them either as ‘unexplained’ or suicides’. The PIL appeals the court to constitute a Special Investigating Team to probe the deaths
and find out if India’s premier nuclear establishments have been following protocols and standard operating procedures when it comes to the safety of their employees.