BrahMos breach: How gaming codes were used to send seeker technology of the missile
New Delhi, Oct 9: A joint operation by the Anti Terrorist Squads of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra led to the arrest of a Brahmos Aerospace engineer in Nagpur. The person to be held has been identified as Nishant Agrawal and has been booked under the Official Secrets Act.
The probe is underway and ATS IG Aseem Arun informed that very sensitive information has been found on Agrawal. He also said that they have in their possession chat transcripts which show that he was chatting with some Pakistan based operators on Facebook.
It all began with the arrest of Achutanand Misra, a BSF jawan hailing from Mewat. He had been honey-trapped, following which he started sharing information about operation unit details. The police say that Misra who had been arrested from Noida had shared sensitive information about the police academy as well. He was in contact with a woman, who had honey trapped him after claiming to be a defence reporter.
It was during the questioning of Misra, that Agrawal's name cropped up. During the probe two more Facebook profiles of women cropped up. It was found that Agrawal was part of these profiles and had been in touch with the women.
Sources in the ATS tell OneIndia that Agrawal was contacted by the two women, who went on to offer him a job. He had been in touch with them since the past two years. The ATS source also confirmed that the IP addresses of the accounts were from Pakistan.
The trail is expected to get longer, with two more persons coming under the scanner in connection with the same probe. The source said that there is nothing concrete found on these two persons as yet and hence we are not revealing their identity. We are probing the matter to find out if something more comes up. However we are sure that this is a huge ring and many more names would crop up during the future course of our probe.
What was found on Agrawal:
ATS sources further added that on Agrawal's laptop, they had found confidential information pertaining to defence and security. The extent of the information that was shared is still under investigation. However we can confirm that what ever had been shared was very sensitive in nature.
Agrawal during the questioning was unable to give any satisfactory answer as to why such confidential information was on his laptop. We are studying the history of the conversations and this will tell us the nature and extent of the information that he had shared since the past two years, the officer also said.
Agrawal was privy to a lot of information. He was supervising new projects at the BrahMos facilities at Nagpur and Pilani. Among the information that was sought by the handlers was the new technology that was being developed jointly by India and Russia. Officials said that they suspect that the information was not being shared only with the ISI, but another foreign agency as well. When the news of his arrest broke out on Monday, it was said that he was also in touch with an American agency. The information that was sought was related to the seekers. It is the seeker technology that determines the accuracy of a missile. It may be recalled that the BrahMos was successfully flight tested with an indigenous seeker.
The agencies are also probing if Agrawal had leaked sensitive data pertaining to the supersonic cruise missile BrahMos to his handlers in Pakistan. ATS sources say that he had used a coded game to send across vital information to his handlers. The ATS would have more information once they are able to decode the gaming codes and decrypt the information.
What we know about Agrawal:
His Facebook profile states that he studied at the National Institute of Technology, Kurukshethra. He also worked as a research intern at IIT Roorkee. At the Brahmos Aerospace, he worked as the head of the hydraulics-pneumatics and warhead integration (production department).
He headed a 40 member team that included personnel from systems, R&D group, engineers, technical and technology. The 27 year old engineer originally hails from Uttarakhand and had been awarded the Young Scientist Award recently.
He was living in a rented accommodation on Wardha Road, Nagpur since the past one year. Hailing from Roorkee he was living with his wife. He had got married only two months back.