Based on the data compiled under the Right To Information Act by activist Chetan Kothari, about the deaths of various personnel working for India’s nuclear establishment,over a four year period between 2010 and 2014.
Kothari through his advocate Ashish Mehta has claimed in a Public Interest Litigation(Court Case) that ‘Over the last few years,a number of India’s nuclear scientists have been dying under mysterious circumstances and the police are classifying them either as ‘unexplained’ or suicides.’
The PIL — a copy of which is available with Rediff.com — appeals to the Bombay High Court to constitute a Special Investigating Team to probe these deaths and find out if India’s premier nuclear establishments have been following protocols and standard operating procedures when it comes to the safety of their employees.
The deaths mostly involve BARC scientists Scientists working in the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) have been particularly liable to “suicides” and murders, with several being reported during the past five years. In each case, the unnatural death in question gets passed off as either a suicide or an unexplained killing.
Citing a number of deaths of key nuclear engineers and scientists, the PIL states that the government and the defendants have not taken these deaths — often under mysterious circumstances — seriously and made no efforts to find out the truth behind them.
‘It is very pertinent to note that there are PARALLELS here with the numerous ATTACKS ON THE IRANIAN nuclear scientist community ‘, (which most security agencies blame on Mossad) the petition notes, but ‘the same cannot be said for the Indian government, as the Indian government is not making any noise about the whole thing.’
‘Once the “unexplained” rubber stamp has been approved, government bodies don’t tend to task the authorities with investigating further’, the petition states.
Buttressing its claims the petition cites, among others, the mysterious deaths of two high-ranking engineers who worked on India’s first nuclear-powered submarine, the INS Arihant, seen in image above.
The petition states:’Recently, (October 2013 )two high-ranking engineers –– K K Josh and Abhish Shivam — on India’s first nuclear-powered submarine were found at Penduruthy near Vishakapatnam Naval Yard by workers. They were not hit by any train, but yet were dead. Reports claimed they were poisoned elsewhere before being placed on the tracks to make the deaths look accidental or suicide.”. Abhish Shivam, 33 was a chief engineer working at INS Arihant, India’s first nuclear-powered submarine. KK Josh, 34 was chief engine room artificer (CERA) at Shipbuilding Centre, a unit of ministry of defence at the Eastern Naval Command (ENC)
‘The media and the ministry of defence, however, have described the incident as a routine accident and didn’t investigate any further. This far, there have been no reports of the police having identified any of the perpetrators of the murders of personnel whose brainpower has been crucial to the success of several key programmes.’
‘When nuclear scientist Lokanathan Mahalingam’s body turned up in June of 2009, it was palmed off as a suicide and largely ignored by the Indian media.’
In April of 2011, when the body of former scientist Uma Rao was found, investigators ruled the death as suicide, but family members contested the verdict, saying there had been no signs that Rao was suicidal.’‘If the deaths of those in the community aren’t classed as suicide, they’re generally labeled as “unexplained.”
A good example is the case of M Padmanabhan Iyer (reportedly gay ) murdered in February 2010 , who was found with internal haemorrhaging to his skull — possibly the result of a “kinky experiment,” according to a police officer.”After pursuing the case for nearly two years, the Gamdevi police recently filed an A-summary (case of murder is true, but cannot be detected) in court.
Forensics experts say that in all such unexplained deaths of scientists and engineers involved in the nuclear programme, fingerprints are absent, as also other telltale clues that would assist the police in identifying the culprit.”These indicate a HIGH DEGREE OF PROFESSIONALISM behind the murders, such as can be FOUND IN TOP-FLIGHT INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES of the type that have been so successful in killing Iranian scientists and engineers active in that country’s nuclear programme.”
According to the Government of India, over just a three-year period, there have been AT LEAST NINE UNNATURAL DEATHS of scientists and engineers at just BARC as well as the Kaiga nuclear facility , of which two have been categorised as suicide, with the rest unexplained in terms of bringing to book those responsible.’
The petitioner expressed shock at the government’s indifference to such valuable assets.
The petition states:‘The most pressing issue isn’t who might be behind the murders, but that the Indian government’s apathy is potentially putting their high-value staff at even greater risk. Currently, these scientists, who are crucial to the development of India’s nuclear programmes, whether for energy or security, have ” absolutely no protection at all, which is quite amusing for people who are in such a sensitive programme.'”
All these deaths under mysterious circumstances clearly indicate a conspiracy by foreign hands who want to create impediments in India’s nuclear programme and weaken India’s security,” says Kothari about what prompted him to file a PIL of this nature.”The government has so far never instituted a fact-finding mission to ascertain this, turning a blind eye to this disturbing chain of events,” adds Kothari.
Pressing for the constitution of an SIT, the PIL says, ‘The Government of India is certainly not taking this matter seriously, and that is both saddening and deeply disturbing from a national security perspective. As the new government (BJP Govt) is in place, it is important that this neglected issue is directed by this honourable court to be looked into very seriously by the Respondents and remedial steps must be taken forthwith’
Seven months have gone and the” Patriotic” Modi Government has not done a thing to act on the petition
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