Thiruvananthapuram: K Muraleedharan, the son of former Kerala chief minister K Karunakaran, on Monday reiterated he would go to any extent to clear his late father's name in the 1994 ISRO spying case that later proved to be a dud. "I am yet to get a reply from Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on the demand I made that action should be taken against the three (now retired) police officers who investigated the case," Muraleedharan told reporters here. The case had seen Karunakaran's downfall in 1996.
Should Chandy not reply, Muraleedharan said he "will go ahead with legal steps because my father was haunted by this case for no fault of his". "My father was ousted from the chief minister's post following a conspiracy and this had the support of (then prime minister) P.V. Narasimha Rao," he added. The Central Bureau of Investigation had asked the Kerala government to take action against the three officers after the Supreme Court ordered the closure of the case in 1996 and the freeing of the five accused, including Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientist S. Nambi Narayanan.
The case once again came to the fore last month when a division bench of the Kerala High Court upheld an order of the National Human Rights Commission awarding compensation of Rs.1 million to Narayanan. Soon after that, Muraleedharan wrote to Chandy demanding action against the three police officers. Narayanan, along with another ISRO official, two Maldivian women and a businessman were arrested in 1994.
In 1995, Karunakaran had come under severe pressure from a section of the Congress, the biggest grouse against him being that he had shielded a deputy inspector general of police, Raman Srivastava, who according to then media reports, was considered close to Narayanan. Srivastava later rose to be Kerala's police chief. Things changed drastically in 1996 after the Supreme Court ruling that enabled Narayanan to get back his job. Karunakaran held on for some time but Narasihma Rao asked him to quit since his position became shaky and he could not erase of the stain of the ISRO case.
At the height of the case, the Congress here had two factions: one headed by Karunakaran and the other by A.K. Antony, now the country's defence minister. Chandy now heads this faction. Muraleedharan, however, gave Antony a clean chit and said that though the two of them had differences of opinion, Antony was not the kind of person who would have done anything to dislodge his father. "I have full confidence in Antony and I have never drawn his name into this at all," Muraleedharan reiterated. Antony was then the union food minister and replaced Karunakaran as the chief minister.
Chandy is yet to make any comment, despite being asked last week. When he first became the chief minister in 2004, after Antony resigned taking moral responsibility for the 2004 Lok Sabha poll debacle when the Congress won just one of the state's 20 seats, Chandy made Srivatsava the Kerala police chief.