Was ISRO ‘Spy Case’ A US Conspiracy To Stop India From Becoming A Space Powerhouse?

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is now the world’s most well-known name in space technology.

After the success of ‘Mangalyaan Mission’ and ground testing of Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle’s (GSLV), India is now hoping to launch its first heavy-lift version of GSLV (Mark-III) this December.


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But former project director of ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion Systems, S. Nambinarayanan, said that the feat could have been crossed 12 years ago were it not for an “international conspiracy”.

Nambinarayanan said that the “conspiracy” was launched to halt India’s leap into space and “was part of an agenda by the US”.




He said:

“Cancellation of the contract and my arrest were part of an agenda of the US, accomplished by conniving with officials of our Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Kerala Police,”

The contract that Nambinarayanan is talking about was between India’s ISRO and Russian space agency Glavkosmos for the technology transfer of a cryogenic propulsion system in 1991.



Glavkosmos cancelled their contract with ISRO in 1993 after repeated pressure from the US. Nambinarayanan was arrested on November 1994 on charges of selling India’s “rocket secrets to Pakistan through two Maldivian women “spies”.

He was then suspended from his job; ISRO’s work with the cryogenic engine development thus suffered without Nambinarayanan.

In 1996, the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) found charges against Nambinarayanan to be false and fabricated by the IB and the Kerala Police.

The finding was endorsed by the Supreme Court in April 1998 and by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in September 1999.

The NHRC then passed a stricture against the Kerala government for having “tarnished” Nambinarayanan’s long and distinguished career in space research apart from the physical and mental torture that he and his family had to bear.

Nambinarayanan has since been fighting a legal battle against the state and central governments.



But more importantly, he feels sad because nobody bothered to unearth the motives behind the false charges against him or take action against those officers of the IB and the Kerala Police who were involved.

He also points out that an IB officer of the rank of joint director was dismissed in 1996 for his alleged links with the CIA.


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