BENGALURU: A former director of Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Space Application Centre (SAC) in Ahmedabad has alleged an “espionage attack” by “mysterious men” who tried to assassinate him twice. He alleges that the gang is targeting scientists and scientific institutions in the country and does not rule out this “modus operandi” for “adjusting” seniority within the organisation.
Not blaming any person, organisation, or country, the senior ISRO scientist, Prof Tapan Misra, set to retire on January 31, says, “The motive appears to be espionage attack, embedded in the Government setup, to remove a scientist with critical contribution of very large military and commercial significance, like expertise in building Synthetic Aperture Radar. I will also not rule out… a new modus operandi of adjusting seniority (within ISRO) and clear me (sic) who was perceived as (an) obstacle.”
In a startling Facebook post, “Long Kept Secret”, on Tuesday, Prof Misra, currently a senior advisor to ISRO, says the first assassination attempt on him was made on May 23, 2017 during a promotion interview at the ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru, and again on July 12, 2019 in Ahmedabad. He also points at more recent attempts to kill him by releasing poisonous snakes into his house in Ahmedabad through “a carefully laid secret tunnel in my compound and hidden in a trove of banana plantations”.
Mentioning the “highly suspicious death of Prof Vikram Sarabhai (founder-chairman of ISRO) in 1971” and “doubts about sudden death of Dr S Srinivasan” (former director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre), Misra says that he is “convinced that these are the men, embedded in our system (who) are leading to mysterious deaths of scientists and destruction of our institutions.” He attributes the infamous 1994 ISRO espionage case which targeted Nambi Narayanan to these “mysterious men”.
Misra alleges that the first attempt in May 2017 involved poisoning him with the deadly Arsenic Trioxide while he was attending an interview for being promoted from Scientist ‘F’ to ‘G’ grade. The attack made him suffer for two years and he lost nearly 30-40 per cent of blood and could barely reach Ahmedabad where he was rushed to a hospital.
In the second attempt in July 2019, he says, “My security was breached and I was poisoned with gaseous poison, probably Hydrogen Cyanide, which hypoxiates leaving no trace…. leading to convulsion, loss of senses and memory. I survived because of NSG training for my PSO. I was transferred immediately to hospital, administered ozonised oxygen and had to spend (a) couple of days in ICU.” He says the attempt “happened just prior to (the) planned launch date of Chandrayan-2 on July 15…Probably to prevent me (from being) present there (at Sriharikota).”
He says, “What pains me is that the ISRO hierarchy and my colleagues tried to shun me as a pariah. I pleaded with two successive Chairmen to help me in getting justice.” Misra confirmed to TNIE that he posted this on FB keeping younger scientists in mind. He said that the incidents should be investigated to rid the system of such elements.