New Delhi: R.B. Sreekumar, a former cop who would often recite verses from the Gita to prove his spirituality but eventually ended up in jail, was one of the key conspirators responsible for framing veteran space scientist Nambi Narayanan as a spy. Sreekumar, currently in jail for his false allegations of a larger conspiracy in the 2002 Gujarat riots, was the key conspirator in the ISRO case, now turned into a blockbuster movie featuring actor Madhavan in the lead role.
The issue that is coming out in the public domain is the fact that whether Sreekumar had tried to frame the Gujarat government and the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi in a quid pro quo for a rival political party.
This reporter has accessed the report of the Central Bureau of Investigation that nails the lies of Sreekumar and details how he framed Narayanan and ruined the career and life of one of India’s finest space scientists.
It needs a mention here that Sreekumar worked closely with activist Teesta Setalvad to defame the Gujarat government and blame the then CM Narendra Modi for the communal riots in the western Indian state. Social media has a host of telephonic conversations between the two.
Interestingly, this is what Narayanan had told ANI after Sreekumar’s arrest: “I came to know that he was arrested today for keeping on fabricating stories and trying to sensationalize them. There was such a charge against him. That is exactly what he did in my case.” Who were the unseen hands that motivated Sreekumar’s untruths remain unrevealed as yet, although a foreign intelligence agency is suspected. Its country of origin was working 24/7 to derail the Indian nuclear and space program in an effort at ensuring that China leapt ahead of India in both. Its head of state had given extraordinary concessions to the PRC in terms of commercial and technological access, to the detriment of the security of his own country.
The CBI report says Sreekumar was posted as Deputy Director, SIB, Trivandrum, during 1994, and was entrusted with the investigation in the ISRO espionage case. The CBI report says Sreekumar was the mastermind in the fabrication of the entire case as well as the ill-treatment given to Narayanan, which included humiliation and physical torture. Narayanan stayed in jail for 50 days. “A patriotic scientist was branded as a trader, arrested, tortured and humiliated, all under the watch of Shri Kumar,” says the report.
It was on January 29, 2004 that the Ministry of Home Affairs initiated disciplinary proceedings against Sreekumar, who was served a charge-sheet on 9 counts, which included the following:
(1) Physically taking over the possession of the accused persons from the lawful custody of Kerala Police without completing legal formalities and conducting independent investigation disassociating the Kerala Police.
(2) For torturing/ill-treating the accused persons during the investigation.
(3) Not submitting a written statement of interrogation in respect of two persons interrogated by the team, one of them being Nambi Narayanan. The interrogation statements prepared by his team were left unsigned and undated.
(4) The interrogation was videographed, but none from the investigating team could establish the identity of the person who videographed the interrogation.
(5) Sreekumar failed to conduct a verification about the veracity of the statements of the accused persons as recorded by the team of IB officers without assigning any reasons, which resulted in irreparable loss and humiliation to respectable scientists of ISRO and others which reflects lack of proper supervision, integrity to duty…” (Extract reproduced from the chargesheet).
(6) Sreekumar, in his interrogation report, talked about a meeting of Shri Raman Srivastava, then IG (an IPS officer of Kerala cadre) with some accused persons, but he did not share this information with State Police about the basis of allegation against the officer which caused defame and humiliation to the officer.
(7) Sreekumar found one of the main accused responsible for bringing out the secret papers, documents, maps etc. from one of the installations of ISRO. Despite this fact, State Police were informed by this team that nothing was likely to be recovered from the house of the accused in case it was searched. However, later on, State Police were blamed for not having searched the residence of that accused.
(8) Mathew John, Joint Director, IB (senior of Sreekumar) sent a message stating that disclosures made by the accused persons were a mixture of truth, half-truth and untruth. Sreekumar was fully aware of the fact that the investigation report prepared by their team was full of contradictions and statements of many accused that did not match each other. Despite this, Sreekumar did not conduct verifications of the disclosures made by the accused persons.
Now by 2004, two things were clear. That the ISRO’s spy case was a fabricated case done at the behest of individuals and entities inimical to the success of ISRO and India. Secondly, it was also clear that the man who was single-handedly responsible for the fabrication of this case was none other than Sreekumar.
But things changed dramatically in the second half of 2004 when the UPA Government came to power. In what appeared to be an obvious quid pro quo, Sreekumar was given a clean chit. Worse, the Ministry of Home Affairs on December 13, 2004, dropped 7 out of the 9 charges without even conducting any enquiry whatsoever. For charges 1 and 2, an oral enquiry was ordered on December 13, 2004.
In just about one month’s time, the entire process of appointing the presenting officer, enquiry officer, conducting and completing the enquiry, preparing and submitting the enquiry report, consideration of the enquiry report at various levels, and issuing the final order dropping the charges against Sreekumar was completed.
“The swiftness of this inquiry has no parallel in the history of police administration,” an insider told this reporter. Top people in the government or close to the government were known to be close to the country whose spy agency is said to have fabricated the ISRO case that derailed the cryogenic engine program for almost a decade. Those involved in the fabrication who were above the chain of command to Sreekumar remain unknown.
“As a part of the quid pro-quo, Sreekumar was expected to launch a tirade full of lies and untruths against the BJP government in Gujarat for political reasons. Shri Kumar honoured his part of the deal with his political suitors,” the insider further said.
It would be worth looking at the Sreekumar case and how it was wrapped up to save the IPS officer.
The closure of disciplinary proceedings initiated by the Charge Sheet date 17.11.1999 in the case of Sreekumar, has been found to be grossly illegal as approval of the Prime Minister and the President was not obtained in terms of the Rule 8 of the Govt. of India (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1971 r.w. Item 39 (i), Schedule I of the said Rules.
So let’s list the irregularities:
The disciplinary proceeding under Rule 8 of AIS (Conduct) Rules, 1968 in the case of Sreekumar in the matter of imputations of misconduct against him in the infamous ISRO spy case was started on 17.11.1999 when the charge sheet was issued to him with 9 Articles of Charge and nothing was done in that case till 13.12.2004.
It is normal and routine for such delay in disciplinary proceedings.
On 13.12.2004, i.e., after a lapse of more than 5 years, the Enquiry Officer was appointed to hold an oral enquiry and Shri K. M. Singh, IPS Maharashtra, 1968 the then Director General of CISF was appointed to enquire into charges.
On 13.12.2004 itself, the written statement of defence was considered by the Home Minister and was partially accepted dropping 7 out of 9 charges and deciding to hold enquiry on 1st and 2nd charges as those charges could not have been dropped without holding an enquiry.
The charge sheet has listed 12 witnesses from all over the country that also included retired senior officers like Shri D.C. Pathak, the former Director of Intelligence Bureau. In addition to that, it relied upon 24 documents including the statements of the accused in the ISRO spy case and more notably that of Shri Nambi Narayanan, the main accused.
In normal course, the Presenting Officer would not have received these documents in less than a year and would not have completed the examination of witnesses and exhibiting the relied upon documents in less than two to three years.
The Government would not have been able in routine manner to provide the relied upon documents to the Charged Officer in less than a year.
The disciplinary proceedings were, however, closed on 24.01.2005. This means between 13.12.2004 to 24.01.2005 which comes to 43 days everything was over. This includes both the first and last days for initiation of oral enquiry, presentation of the case of the prosecution, exhibiting the relied upon documents, providing the copies of the relied upon documents to the charged officer, examining the witnesses, allowing the cross-examination of the witnesses by the charged officer, considering the defence of the charged officer, examining the witnesses of the charged officer, receiving the statement of defence by the charged officer, considering the entire material in a judicial manner, preparing the enquiry report, submitting the enquiry report to the competent authority, examination of the enquiry report beginning at the level of SO and passing through Under Secretary, Deputy Secretary/ Director, Joint Secretary, Additional Secretary, Secretary, MOS (H) and then finally the Home Minister, consideration of the entire material by the Home Minister and decision thereon, the return of the file right up to SO through the same channel, drafting of the order and submission of the same by the same channel again up to Home Minister and return of the file through the same rule for issue of the order closing the disciplinary proceeding.
The entire process involved in a normal course could not be completed in less than 5 years. The very fact that the entire matter was completed in 43 days clearly shows some hidden hand of God which was regulating the entire case.
The second article of charge was in respect of torture and ill treatment of at least three accused persons by the Charged Officer in course of investigation which could not be decided without the examination of the concerned persons. There is nothing on record to show that those three persons were examined by the Presenting Officer in support of charges.
There is nothing on record to show that Presenting Officer ever examined all the witnesses relied upon to prove the charge and exhibited all the documents relied upon in support of the charge and if the witnesses and relied upon documents were not relied upon by the Presenting Officer, it is obvious that he was given instructions not to do the same by the competent authority which clearly makes out a case of a strong collusion between the Charged Officer and the Government.
The break neck speed with which the enquiry was completed and the manner in which the enquiry was conducted clearly shows a deep-rooted conspiracy and collusion between the Charged Officer and the MHA and it is clear that for some undisclosed consideration, the MHA/Govt. of India was in a tearing hurry in December, 2004 to close the disciplinary proceedings against Sreekumar.
There has to be some consideration for such bizarre conduct of enquiry as the enquiry was conducted completely in a manner completely contrary to normal and routine practice and smacks of collusion and conspiracy. This aspect needs a full probe to unearth the rotten eggs that were there at the time in the investigative basket.
The mala fide and mischief of MHA/Govt. of India is evident by comparing the conduct of the enquiry by MHA in the case of other IPS Officers as well as IAS Officers under the same Rules and perhaps this will be one of the rarest case in which entire process stood completed only in 43 days. In view of evidence linking the frame-up of top scientists and the exoneration of the guilty to external forces, a full enquiry into the hushing up of the identity of higher level perpetrators of the ISRO case handled by R B Sreekumar is seen by as essential.