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After SC order, yes, I feel vindicated in some way : Nambi Narayan, former ISRO scientist

1 month ago
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Excerpts from an interview with Indian Express after the Padma award’s announcement on Friday and at the Tata Literature Festival last year.

With the Padma Bhushan conferred on him, former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan has reasons to feel vindicated. Twenty-four years after he was accused of leaking vital defence secrets, Narayanan saw a measure of justice when the Supreme Court, in September last year, held that he had been framed. Excerpts from an interview with Pooja Pillai, after the Padma award’s announcement on Friday and at the Tata Literature Festival last year:

Does the Padma Bhushan feel like vindication?

After the Supreme Court’s judgment, the state (Kerala) government executed its job in a grand manner. And now the Central government has done this, and yes, I do feel vindicated in some way. Basically, I was fighting for justice, and it would be good if a lesson was learned from this. Six of us who were targeted by certain individuals within the system were helpless, and the nation also lost out on good work. Most of us lost our dignity. What needs to be done now is that (action of) those individuals should be curbed. That is what I am hoping for.

What did it cost you to fight to clear your name?

A lot of will power and a lot of effort. For me, it was a necessity (to fight). I had no choice – I was not sure whether I would be alive to see the result, but here it is now. The Supreme Court has said that it was “malicious persecution”.

I am reminded of the case of Dr Mohammed Haneef, who was from Bangalore, and who was wrongfully accused of spying by Australia. When their government realised they had made a mistake, besides compensating him, they apologised to him. So what Australia showed to a foreigner, we are not showing to an Indian citizen, who has contributed to the country. That is what we should be comparing.

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A 24-year fight for justice and Rs 50 lakh at the end of it as compensation from Kerala government. Is that enough?

What can you do? You can’t do anything. But my main aim was not compensation; it was to punish them (those who targetted him). Now at least I have hope that the Jain committee will do justice.

Do you feel relieved now?

What I would have wanted was an immediate action of arresting those responsible and putting them behind bars. But what you want is immaterial – if you want the sky, and you get something, be happy with that something.

What did India’s space programme lose because of the spy scandal?

I feel India fell behind by something to the tune of 12 to 14 years. But if you talk about this, nobody will react. Nobody is accepting or reacting to this. In fact, you should look into it yourself and check whether what I am saying is true. I am saying that development of cryogenic technology got delayed by 12-14 years. It could be true, or could be a false claim, but you have an easy way of checking it.

Your story will soon be on the big screen, with Anant Mahadevan and R Madhavan making ‘Rocketry: The Nambi Effect’.

My daughter will not read the book when it comes to a description of my torture. She just turns the page. She told me to tell Madhavan that he cannot show my torture in the movie. I said they will show whatever happened. There are so many things happening in the story, it’s very thrilling.

 

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