Wrongly accused in ISRO spy case, SK Sharma dies of cancer in Bengaluru

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SK Sharma was in palliative care being treated for stage-4 oesophagus cancer.

SK Sharma had been trying for compensation for the last 20 years. (Photo: Facebook Screengrab/ S K Sharma)

Bengaluru: Sudhir Kumar Sharma, one of the men falsely accused in the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) 'spy' case of 1994, has died early on Thursday.

SK Sharma was in palliative care being treated for stage-4 oesophagus cancer.

Sharma was 62-year-old. He is survived by wife and three daughters.

Sharma was hoping to be compensated for the allegations after former ISRO scientist, Nambi Narayanan, was cleared of espionage charges and awarded Rs 50 lakh compensation for "unnecessary harassment" by the Kerala Police.

Labour contractor from Bengaluru, SK Sharma, who was tortured and harassed by the Kerala Police, was also cleared of all charges, but only after a difficult time in custody.

Socially ostracised and labelled as a traitor even when he fought to clear his name, it was a long battle for Sharma, who kept fighting tooth and nail as he wanted his reputation to be restored.

Sharma was trying for compensation for the last 20 years.

Sharma was just 34-year-old when he was first illegally detained for two days – November 21 and 22 in 1994 – from a DRDO lab in Bengaluru.

Sharma was good friend of Chandrashekhar, another person who was falsely accused in the case, who recently passed away.

In early 1994, Chandrashekhar had contacted Sharma seeking his help to get daughter of one of the two Maldivian women he had met at the Thiruvananthapuram airport admitted to a school.

Sharma was unaware that months later he would be detained, his family put under surveillance, or that he would be associated to what at the time was country’s biggest scandal.

In custody, Sharma was physically tortured. 'They hit me. Slapped and kicked. Then with cane. After half an hour, this person would vanish. Another person would come. They said, 'you passed ISRO and defence information to Pakistan'. I cried and cried but they were unrelenting. They didn't let me sit on the ground for three days," Sharma told NDTV earlier.

His reputation was damaged. And it hurt not just him but his family too.

Sharma had told NDTV, "My daughters were thrown out from the school. My daughters were humiliated. They were told, 'You people are agents, deshdrohis (anti-nationals). The teachers also said hurtful things."

His social life was affected as well and people who were close to him started avoiding him.