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‘Mole’ shock and salve

New Delhi, July 26: Senior materials scientist V.S. Arunachalam, a former scientific adviser to the defence minister, spent the day on an emotional roller-coaster ' incredulity, hours of mental trauma and then relief.

Bangalore-based Arunachalam said today that he would file charges against a private TV channel that had named him as the likely “mole” that former foreign minister Jaswant Singh had alluded to in his book.

“I’ll take whatever steps necessary to clear my name, file charges for defamation of character, and seek reparations for damage to my reputation and for invasion of privacy,” Arunachalam told The Telegraph.

Jaswant told another channel this afternoon that it would be irresponsible for anyone to point a finger at Arunachalam, who had been scientific adviser to the defence minister from 1982 through 1992.

When a deluge of calls began pouring in last night to inform him about the speculation being aired by a television channel, Arunachalam said, he found it “incredulous”. He said Jaswant’s comments today came as relief “but no surprise to me”.

“There is relief and sadness that this should happen after 40 years of service to the country,” said Arunachalam during whose tenure India had launched the light combat aircraft and the integrated guided missile development programmes.

“I’ve never ever worked in the Prime Minister’s Office,” said Arunachalam, who left his position as scientific adviser to go on a sabbatical to a US university in 1992.

“On my return, I’ve never worked for the central government again,” he said.

Arunachalam had joined the Carnegie Mellon University from where he had ' during the tenure of the BJP-led government ' proposed an ambitious high-speed national Internet backbone called Sankhya Vahini to boost connectivity in India.

The backbone project had even been approved by the cabinet, but was eventually abandoned because of opposition from various quarters.

“This past day has been bad for the family,” Arunachalam said.

And ' for the moment ' the identity of the “mole” remains a mystery.

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