Brahmos engineer, accused of spying for Pak’s ISI, was ‘casual’ on Internet and became easy target: Official

Nishant Agrawal, a senior system engineer with BrahMos Aerospace in Nagpur, was arrested in a joint operation by the Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra ATS from his rented residence on Monday morning. He has been taken to Lucknow for questioning.
Nishant Agrawal is senior system engineer with BrahMos Aerospace in Nagpur.(Facebook Photo/ Nishant Aggarwal)
Nishant Agrawal is senior system engineer with BrahMos Aerospace in Nagpur.(Facebook Photo/ Nishant Aggarwal)
Updated on Oct 10, 2018 09:23 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Nagpur | ByPradip Kumar Maitra

An engineer working at the BrahMos Missile Research Centre in Nagpur, who was arrested on Monday on charges of spying for Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI and other countries, had made himself an “easy target” by his “casual” approach on the internet, a police officer said.

Meanwhile, the engineer, Nishant Agrawal, was produced before the district court which sent him to three-day transit custody of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS). He was handed over to the Uttar Pradesh ATS who took him to Lucknow for further interrogation.

Agrawal, who is in his 20s, was arrested in a joint operation by the Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra ATS from his rented Ujjwal Nagar residence on Monday morning. He is a senior system engineer with BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s Military Industrial Consortium (NPO Mashinostroyenia) that works on India’s supersonic cruise missile.

He was in touch with suspected Pakistani intelligence operatives through two Facebook accounts -- Neha Sharma and Pooja Ranjan. These accounts, based out of Islamabad, are believed to be run by Pakistan’s intelligence operatives, according to Uttar Pradesh ATS sources.

An ATS official, who did not want to be identified, also alleged that PDF files top classified information had been found loaded on the accused’s personal laptop.

Agrawal, despite being engaged in “highly sensitive work”, was “casual” on the internet and made himself an “easy target”, the ATS officer said. He said Agrawal was active on LinkedIn also.

This is the first spy scandal to hit BrahMos Aerospace, which is involved in making critical components for BrahMos missile, considered the world’s fastest cruise missile and one that can be launched from land, ships, aircraft or submarines.

Agrawal is accused of leaking classified information to the Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan as well as other countries. Some experts, however, say he worked at the integration facility and doubt he had access to any classified information.

His father, Dr Pradeep Agrawal, who was at the court premises when the engineer was produced before the court for transit remand, said that his son could never do any such anti-national activities. “I have full faith on the system. If he is really involved in such activities he deserves punishment,” he added.

Meanwhile, two scientists working in a DRDO lab in Kanpur are also being monitored for suspicious activity.

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