Mysterious Deaths Of Indian Scientists

Mysterious Deaths Of Indian Scientists

After looking at ISRO scientist Tapan Misra’s revelation on Facebook and thwarting of Indian tech programmes, let us take a look at the ‘mysterious’ deaths of notable Indian scientists as well the (lack of) response from the Indian state.

Crux of the Matter

Dr. Vikram Sarabhai

  • Commonly known as the father of the space programme of India.
  • 30 Dec 1971: Dr. Sarabhai was found dead in a hotel room at Halcyon Castle in Kovalam (Kerala).
  • Former ISRO scientist S Nambi Narayanan has claimed in his biography that Dr. Sarabhai was cremated without autopsy – his death was likely an “international conspiracy”.

Dr. Homi Bhabha

  • Homi J Bhabha, a renowned Indian nuclear physicist, died in an air crash in 1966.
  • Journalist Gregory Douglas published his interviews with Robert Crowley, a former CIA officer for 4 years in Conversations with the Crow.

Douglas claimed in his book that Crowley had told him that:

  • US had “trouble” when India started work on the atomic bomb.
  • Bhabha was “dangerous” and was “warned several times”.

We could have blown it up over Vienna but we decided the high mountains were much better for the bits and pieces to come down on. I think a possible death or two among mountain goats is much preferable than bringing down a huge plane right over a big city… India was quieter after Bhabha croaked.

Robert Crowley on blowing up Bhabha’s flight according to Conversations with the Crow

Dr. Nambi Narayanan

  • Dr. Nambi Narayanan of ISRO was leading the cryogenic rocket engine project.
  • 1994: Dr. Narayanan was arrested on charges of leaking highly confidential data to foreign agencies, and was beaten and tortured in jail.
  • Exonerated (acquitted) by CBI which took investigation from Kerala Police.
  • 1998: The Supreme Court dismissed the case.
  • 2001: The SC ordered Kerala Government to pay him compensation – ordered investigation into ‘fabrication of case’ in 2018.

Between 1995 and 2010:

  • 684 persons at ISRO and its “associate units” died as per reply to a 2010 RTI enquiry by activist Chetan Kothari. However, ISRO withheld the causes of the deaths.
  • 197 employees committed suicide and 1,733 employees died of various illnesses across all Indian “nuclear establishments and related institutes”.
  • Notably, hundreds of such cases have dismissed as ‘unexplained’ or ‘suicide’. As per a petition by Chetan Kothari, “[there is a] surprising negligence by media and Govt in regularly passing off such deaths as ‘routine”.

All we know is that at ISRO people have been dying at the rate of 45.6 per year and it does not want to tell the public how have they perished. Majority of the government agencies know the cause of their employee’s death, but the ISRO claims that it has no idea how its employees died. This is either sheer callousness on the part of the ISRO or attempt to hide facts from the public.

Chetan Kothari, RTI Activist who had filed the RTI regarding deaths of the scientists

  • Homi Bhabha was killed in an air crash near Mont Blanc on 24 January 1966. Former CIA operative Robert Crowley has claimed that the CIA was responsible for the crash. In Oct 1965 Bhabha had said that India could make a nuclear bomb in 18 months if he was given a go-ahead.
  • S. Nambi Narayanan is an Indian scientist and aerospace engineer and Padma Bhushan award, winner. As a senior official at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), he was in charge of the cryogenics division. In 1994, he was falsely charged with espionage and arrested. The charges against him were dismissed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in April 1996, and the Supreme Court of India declared him not guilty in 1998.
  • The Tashkent Files is an Indian Hindi-language conspiracy thriller film about the death of former Indian prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. Shastri died in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (then the Soviet Union) on 11 January 1966, one day after signing a peace treaty to end the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War.