BJP national executive member P S Sreedharan Pillai has called for a probe into the role played by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) during the crucial phase of ISRO espionage case.
He told a news conference here on Saturday that the conspiracy behind sabotaging the dream of developing an indigenous cryogenic engine and the role played by the US Intelligence agency had not been probed. He said that the ISRO case had sabotaged India’s efforts in developing the cryogenic technology which holds a $300 billion prospect.
In 1990, India launched the project to develop its own cryogenic engine. Though it was to be achieved in six years, it didn’t happen so as per ISRO’s 2012-13 annual report. Sreedharan Pillai also said that former Gujarat DGP R B Sreekumar was the member of the IB team which took the accused in the ISRO espionage case into custody. Pillai alleged that following charges of illegal custody and torture of the accused, Sreekumar and his colleague had to face department-level probe since 1999. He said people of the country had the right to know about what happened to the IB officials who faced disciplinary action.
He claimed that Rathan Sehgal, who was the second in command in the IB and the head of the IB team which probed the ISRO case, was later terminated from service for sharing nuclear secrets to US Intelligence agencies.
It had been alleged that Sehgal held several secret meetings with the CBI officials. He said Sehgal’s case was not an isolated one. Against this backdrop, the government should issue a white paper and order a probe by a central agency into the IB’s role in the case. Pillai said the then Prime Minister late P V Narasimha Rao had told the Rajya Sabha on August 18, 1993, that in May 1992, USA imposed an embargo on ISRO and Glavkosmos for two years citing that the agreement violated the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). US had even threatened to blacklist Russia from the select five nation club of spacefaring countries, for providing assistance to India’s efforts in developing its own cryogenic engine.
He pointed out that to bypass the US threat, India had signed another agreement with Russia in 1993 to fabricate four cryogenic engines without the formal transfer of technology. To enable this, ISRO reached a consensus with Kerala Hitech Industries Limited (Keltech) which would have provided the cheapest tender for fabricated engines. But the venture between ISRO-Keltech-Russia did not materialise because of the false espionage case foisted by certain top officials of IB and Kerala police in 1994.