Following the exposing of the deal between Antrix Corporation — the Indian Space Research Organisation [ISRO]'s commercial wing — and the Bangalore-based Devas Multimedia, the debate on whether the Israeli satellite, TecSar, which was launched by ISRO in January 2008 under a commercial contract with Antrix, was for purely peaceful purposes or meant to enable Israel to spy on Iran has come to the fore again.

Urging Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to come out with a clarification on the deal relating to the satellite, senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and member of the party Politburo, Brinda Karat, citing quotes in the media made at the time by Israeli officials, said that the satellite was widely reported as being meant for spying on Iran.

She recalled that she had raised the issue with Mr. Singh through a letter in March 2008 and expressed regret that she did not receive any reply.

In the fresh letter to Dr. Singh, she said: “The main objective of ISRO, as made available in its documents, is to promote the development and application of space science and technology for the socio-economic benefit of the country. But, it is disquietingly apparent that ISRO and Antrix are being sought to be used to promote the strategic and business interests of foreign investors/countries.”

Calling for a “public scrutiny” of ISRO and Antrix, she also noted that some commentators had said that the government had full knowledge that the satellite was to be used for spying on Iran and not, as per the contract with Antrix, for purely peaceful purposes.

“It would have put an end to such speculation if the government had acted in a public manner to verify whether indeed the contract was being violated.

“By not doing so, a wrong message is sent that the use of India's space technology can be subverted to suit the interests of foreign countries and corporate interests in the name of commercial contracts.”

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