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Arrested BrahMos Officer Made Himself 'Easy Target', Interacted With Pak-based Fake Facebook Profiles

BrahMos engineer Nishant Agrawal has been accused of leaking sensitive technical information about the BrahMos Wardha Road facility in Nagpur to Pakistan.


Updated:October 9, 2018, 10:25 PM IST
Arrested BrahMos Officer Made Himself 'Easy Target', Interacted With Pak-based Fake Facebook Profiles
File photo of DRDO employee Nishant Agarwal.
Nagpur: BrahMos Aerospace engineer Nishant Agrawal, who was arrested on charges of espionage on Monday, was talking to two fake Facebook users under the names of ‘Neha Sharma’ and ‘Pooja Ranjan’ and was in touch with officers of Pakistani intelligence unit.

Agrawal has been accused of leaking sensitive technical information about the BrahMos Wardha Road facility in Nagpur to Pakistan.

The UP Police's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Tuesday told the court of Junior Magistrate First Class SM Joshi that Agrawal was in touch with Pakistani operatives via Facebook while seeking his transit remand to take him to Lucknow for a detailed interrogation.

The court granted a three-day transit remand to the UP ATS, Additional Public Prosecutor S J Bagde, who appeared for Maharashtra ATS, said.

According to the ATS officer, Agrawal, despite being engaged in "highly sensitive work", was "casual" on the internet and made himself an "easy target".

The engineer was arrested on Monday in a joint operation by the ATS units of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra police.

BrahMos Aerospace is a joint venture between India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the 'Military Industrial Consortium' (NPO Mashinostroyenia) of Russia.

The two fake Facebook accounts are based out of Islamabad and are believed to be run by Pakistan's intelligence operatives, the ATS officer said.

Such fake accounts are reportedly used to approach senior officials in India and Agrawal, too, was approached by those operating these two Facebook accounts, the IO told the court.

Agrawal made himself an "easy target" with his “casual” approach, the ATS officer said.

He said Agrawal was active on LinkedIn as well.

The laptop that the arrested officer used was loaded with highly classified information.

The officer added that classified registered files with red markings were found stored in PDF (portable document format) in the accused's personal laptop.

"These are all top classified information which (if) shared could be a threat to the country. We want to conduct a detailed interrogation and produce him in the special court in Lucknow, and, hence, request three days transit remand," the IO told the court.

The accused has been charged under sections 3, 4, 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act, sections 419,420, 467, 468, 120 (B) and 121 (A) of the Indian Penal Code as well as 66 (B) of the Information Technology Act.

Nishant Agrawal's father Pradip Agrawal said he did not believe that his son was guilty and has faith in the judiciary.

"I don't think he is guilty. But if he is found guilty and system proves that he is guilty, then yes he is guilty," Pradip Agrawal said on his son's arrest.

ATS sources in Uttar Pradesh's Lucknow Monday said a computer was seized from his Nagpur residence which contained secret documents.

They said such documents should not be present on a personal computer.

The sources said an old computer was also seized from Agrawal's residence in his native town, Roorkee, and its contents were being investigated.

They said since a jawan was arrested in September after allegedly being honey-trapped by the ISI, the ATS was keeping a close watch on fake Facebook accounts of women, being operated from Pakistan, which were in touch with people working in sensitive places.

(With PTI inputs)
(Get detailed and live results of each and every seat in the Lok Sabha elections and state Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim to know which candidate/party is leading or trailing and to know who has won and who has lost and by what margin. Our one-of-its-kind Election Analytics Centre lets you don a psephologist’s hat and turn into an election expert. Know interesting facts and trivia about the elections and see our informative graphics. Elections = News18)
| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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