Few cases can match the ISRO spy case of Kerala, for the sheer heat it manages to generate well over two decades after the scandal exploded in 1994. There was no respite even towards the end of 2017 with two memoirs getting released—one penned by former DGP Siby Mathews who investigated the case and the other by former ISRO scientist and one of the main accused Nambi Narayanan. While Mathews expressed doubts about the veracity of the case in his book Nirbhayam, a big climbdown from his earlier position, Narayanan refuted all allegations against him with a chilling account of the torture he suffered in his autobiography Ormakalude Bhramanapatham.
Driving home the point about the case involving a few ISRO scientists and two Maldivian women being more a conspiracy than an actual spy scandal was the recent public disclosure by Kerala Congress President M M Hassan. He admitted party leaders including former CM Oommen Chandy and he himself had made a mistake using this case to pave the way for the unceremonious exit of the then CM K Karunakaran.
That by exonerating A K Antony, he continued to hold aloft the factional intrigues of his party, was another matter. Narayanan termed Hassan’s statement a ‘confession’ by the ‘A’ faction of the Congress, the real force that raised the ISRO spy case bogey and not the CPM that was in the Opposition.
Proving right the epigram, ‘the more things change the more they stay the same’, the same IPS officer Raman Srivastava, who Karunakaran allegedly went out of his way to protect even as he himself got scalded by the spy case, is presently advising CM Pinarayi Vijayan on all police matters. After so many lives and careers have been destroyed over mudslinging that has lasted almost a quarter century, the time is ripe to lay all the ISRO spy ghosts finally to rest. And who else to do this but the chief minister whose party’s election promise was to set things right. As spook cases go, this one has clearly outlived its sell-by date.