A scientist working at the BrahMos Missile Research Centre (BMRC) in Maharashtra’s Nagpur was arrested on Monday on charges of spying for Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI and other countries, sources say.
Nishant Agrawal has worked in the technical research section of the missile centre for four years. He studied at the National Institute of Technology in Kurukshetra, was a gold medalist and is described as a very bright engineer. According to reports, he married last week.
He was arrested in a joint operation by the Military Intelligence and the Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra police, following a tip.
The police are investigating whether he was “honey-trapped” by Facebook IDs in the name of women, which have been traced to Pakistan.
“Very sensitive information was found on his personal computer. We found evidence of him chatting on Facebook with Pakistan-based IDs,” said Aseem Arun, the chief of the anti-terror squad of Uttar Pradesh.
He will be charged under the Official Secrets Act, sources say. His home and office computers have been seized.
Nishant Agrawal is accused of passing on classified and secret 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.
Two more scientists working in a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) lab in Kanpur are also being monitored for suspicious activity.
This is the first spy scandal to hit the BMRC, which is involved in making critical components for the BrahMos missile, considered the world’s fastest cruise missile and one that can be launched from land, ships, aircraft or submarines.
The BrahMos – its name a combo of the rivers Brahmaputra and Moscow – can fire on targets as much as 300 km away.