Some Lesser Known Facts About Nambi Narayanan
- He joined ISRO in the year 1966.
- In the early 1970s, he invented the liquid fuel rocket technology. He knew that India would need liquid fuelled engines for the upcoming ISRO’s civilian space programmes.
- He was backed by his successor U.R. Rao and the then ISRO chairman Satish Dhawan. Nambi first built the successful 600-kg thrust engine; leading to the development of liquid propellant motors.
- He was assigned the charge of the cryogenics division (the behaviour and the production of materials at low temperature).
- He has worked with prominent scientists of India like Satish Dhawan, Vikram Sarabhai, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, U.R. Rao, etc. and has served ISRO for 35 years.
- He was so tormented and agitated by the false charges that he threatened the Intelligence Bureau Officers that he would make them pay for it. In an interview, he revealed that one of the officers replied that
“Sir, we are doing our duty. If what you are saying is the truth and you are vindicated, you can slap us with your slippers.”
- Nambi and another scientist D Sasikumaran were accused of transferring the ISRO secrets for millions.
- At that time, ISRO did not support Nambi as “ISRO could not interfere in a legal matter,” stated Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan (the then chairman of the ISRO.)
- In 1996, all the charges against him were dismissed by the CBI.
- In 1998, he was acquitted by the Supreme Court of India.
- After being proved innocent, Nambi appealed to get compensation from the State for all his sufferings. He also demanded to hold the Kerela Police Officers and Intelligence Bureau Officers accountable for framing false charges against him.
- Nambi revealed that during the introspection, he was mentally and physically abused, had blown on his neck, torso, and head. He was made to stand for 30 hours after which he collapsed.
- In 2012. The state of Kerela was directed by the High Court to pay ₹10lakhs to Nambi. For which he had to fight a legal battle again as the Kerela Government did not comply with the High Court’s order.
- On 23 October 2017, his autobiography, ‘Ormakalude Bhramanapatham’ was released; revealing the ISRO espionage case. It revealed that Nambi Narayanan, along with five others, was subjected to third degree repeated tortures in the early 1990s. The other accused persons were D. Sasikumaran, ISRO’s contractor S.K. Sharma, a Russian space agency official K. Chandrasekhar, and two Maldivian women: ‘Mariam Rasheeda’ and ‘Fauzia Hassan.’
- In 2018, a bench led by the then Chief Justice ‘Dipak Misra‘ of the Supreme Court stated over the concern of the hampered image of Nambi:
“We can direct compensation to be paid by persons involved in the investigation… We will require the state to recover the compensation from their properties…”
“Let them sell their houses and pay. We are not concerned. We will clarify in our order that his reputation was dented… by this judgment, his reputation is reinstated.”
- Nambi revealed that amidst the case, his image in the society had been affected. The world’s perception towards him was of a spy who betrayed his country. He stated in an interview,
“People would come to our house and burn my effigy, call me names, shout slogans… My family suffered a lot. My children were agitated and would fight back. But my wife slipped into depression and stopped talking.”
He recalled another incident of his wife being forced to get out of an autorickshaw; as the driver did not allow her to travel when he got to know her identity.
“The most cruel part was that it was raining at the time,” he said.
- Nambi fought for justice for two decades. The bench led by the then Chief Justice ‘Dipak Misra’ considered compensation of ₹75lakhs for him to be paid by the state of Kerala.
- In 2018, R. Madhavan was signed to play Nambi Narayanan’s role in the film Rocketry: The Nambi Effect, which was based on Nambi’s life; the film was released on 1 July 2022 in theatres.
- In 2019, he was honoured with Padma Bhushan- India’s third highest civilian honour by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind.