Nambi Narayanan, The Indian Scientist Of ISRO And The Story Behind Fake Spy Scandal 

Mad4India By Archana Bhakta | 2 min read

Nambi Narayanan

Imagine your life being changed after a drastic moment. Top Indian scientist Nambi Narayanan of the Indian space program went through the same. 

India is a country that has cultivated top Indian scientists who have contributed to society for the better.  

It is the story of an aerospace engineer who worked at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) but was meddled into an episode that blew up the rocket scientist’s career. 

It was a scandal that rocked the nation in the 1990s and blistered the career of the ISRO scientist. 

Nambi Narayanan – ISRO scientist 

Nambi Narayanan
Image Source – Facebook

Nambi Narayanan is an Indian aerospace engineer who worked at ISRO – an Indian Space Research Organisation. He was instrumental in developing the Vikas engine that would be used for the first PSLV, India will launch. He was a senior official, and he was in charge of the cryogenics division. 

Nambi Narayanan was born on 12 December 1941 in Tamil Nadu, India. Born in a middle-class family, he was a good student. He went to an engineering school, got a degree, and joined a sugar factory for a while before joining the Indian Space Research Organization. 

He went to Thiagarajar College of Engineering and later took admission in MSE from Princeton University. 

Young Nambi Narayanan had a fascination with flying objects and aircraft. 

To honor his service, the Government of India awarded him the third-civilian award – Padma Bhushan. 

Nambi Narayanan also met Vikram Sarabhai, the founder and then chairman of ISRO, and APJ Abdul Kalam, India’s 11th President and the Missile man of India. 

He was one of the enormous scientists who worked on various listed projects and diligently as a scientist until his life turned upside down in 1994. 

Nambi Narayanan – Episonage scandal 

Nambi Narayanan
Image Source – Wikipedia

It all started with the arrest of a Maldivian woman Mariam Rashida, in October 1994, which led to the surprise arrest of Nambi Narayanan, the director of the cryogenic project lab at ISRO. Along with him, several other people were arrested. 

He was charged with leaking vital defense secrets to two Maldivian intelligence officers. He was accused of selling information about India’s cryogenic engine program to Russia and Pakistan. 

He was accused of selling state secrets like confidential test data from rocket and satellite launches. 

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Nambi Narayanan was arrested and spent 50 days in jail. He claimed that the Intelligence Bureau officials, who were to integrate Nambi, wanted him to make a false accusation. He refused to comply. He was tortured and hospitalized. 

In May 1995, the charges were dismissed by the CBI. The charges against Nambi Narayanan were also dismissed by the Supreme Court in April 1998. 

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) passed criticisms against the Kerala government for damaging the reputation in space research. The criticism carried along with how he was mentally and physically tortured by the Kerala police. 

Nambi Narayanan told the police that rocket secrets could not be transferred through papers and he was brought framed in all of this. 

The NHRC, in 2001, ordered the Kerala government to pay Nambi Narayanan a compensation of Rs. 1 crore. 

Nambi Narayanan retired from ISRO in 2001. His main complaint in the scandal was that ISRO did not support him.

With the Kerala politics in the Nambi Narayanan scandal case, the Kerala Intelligent Bureau played a controversial role in leading the Kerala police down the lane of espionage. CBI took over the case and probed from onwards. After a diversified investigation, they realized the whole case was a fixation, and the people were framed up. 

In 2018, the Supreme court awarded Nambi Narayanan a compensation of 5,000,000 for all the harassment and manipulation he faced. It was to be recovered from the Government of Kerala within eight weeks. 

Nambi was dismissed with the charges by the CBI in April 1996, and the Supreme Court of India declared him not guilty in 1998.

In 2018, the Supreme court ordered an investigation into the fabrication of the Nambi Narayanan case. 

To know about Nambi Narayanan, please check – Facebook and Twitter

If you loved this story, you can read about 11 Indian Scientists received the highest Science Award in 2021

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