The suspicious deaths of India's nuclear scientists
Since 2008, 70 scientists and engineers with various establishments and research centres of the Department of Atomic energy have died due to unnatural causes. The maximum number of deaths were of officials with Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC); 38 BARC personnel died primarily due to accidents. This information was revealed via a 'Right to Information' inquiry filed by the publication 'Sunday Guardian Live.'
DAE was set up on August 3, 1954 and reports directly to the Prime Minister's office. It's the government's nodal agency to pursue work in development of nuclear power technology, application of radiation technologies in sectors including agriculture, defence and medicine.
'Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research', DAE's oldest unit, has seen 15 of its personnel die of unnatural causes such as suicide, hanging, drowning in water and accidental-death. 12 officials of 'Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research', have died due to unnatural causes in the last 8 years; 4 committed suicide and 8 died in road and train accidents.
Despite a massive body count of 70 personnel, none of the central governments in power have ordered an inquiry or high level investigation into the suspicious deaths. Investigations have until now been conducted by local enforcement agencies, deaths that weren't suicide, were labelled as "unexplained". Given the surprising lack of media attention, these cases were rarely taken to their logical conclusion.
With respect to suspicious deaths: "Some of these officials were working on strategic matters at the time of their deaths but their deaths were passed off by the Ministry of Defence, the DAE and the media as natural occurrences. "
In February 2010, M. Iyer, an engineer at BARC, was found dead at his residence. The killer entered the house and a strangle ensued. However, reportedly, some investigating officers tried to pass it off as suicide. In October 2013, two senior engineers on India's first nuclear-powered submarine were found on railway tracks. They were pulled out but were already dead; they were reportedly poisoned.
Some journalists who had close contact with the victims' families claimed many scientists were not suffering from mental illnesses or family problems. Those closely following investigations believe deaths could be a concerted campaign to derail India's nuclear and technological capabilities. Deaths have caused fear and uncertainty amongst those working on India's nuclear projects; even whistleblowers' are believed to keep a distance from nuclear industry.
Iranian nuclear scientists have been targeted in a similar manner however the Iranian government was vocal while condemning these deaths and squarely blamed the US and Israel behind the sabotage.