brahmos aerospace engineer nishant aggarwal: BrahMos engineer accessed secret information at Hyderabad lab before being shifted to Nagpur


Abhishek Sharan

Sources in UP ATS say he had worked in Hyderabad before being shifted to Nagpur; desktop from where he allegedly stole documents sealed.

BrahMos Aerospace engineer Nishant Aggarwal, who was recently arrested on charges of espionage, allegedly used illegal means to lay his hands on “secret and sensitive” defence information not only at the Nagpur unit of Brah-Mos, but also at a Hyderabad laboratory where he previously worked, sources in the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) said.

Aggarwal, hailing from Roorkee in Uttarakhand, had worked at the Hyderabad facility before he was shifted to Nagpur, sources added. The UP ATS, which has Aggarwal’s custody, has seized the desktop computer at the Hyderabad laboratory from where secret documents were allegedly stolen.

It was earlier suspected that Aggarwal had acquired all the classified details stored in his personal laptop at his residence while working on his Nagpur assignment.

“The accused illegally acquired some classified information from a Hyderabad-based laboratory whose identity we will not reveal at this juncture. We have sealed the desktop from where he took the secrets. The contents of the desktop and classified information stored illegally in Aggarwal’s laptop have been sent for forensic examination for comparison,” a source in the ATS said.

During investigations, the police found several classified registered files with red markings stored in PDF (portable document format) in the accused’s personal laptop.

Nishant Aggarwal being taken to court by the Uttar Pradesh ATS in Lucknow on Thursday

With revelations that he could have stolen secret information during his Hyderabad stint as well, the agency is now trying to find out whether more people were “in contact” with the Pakistani-based handlers of the ISI, the Pakistani spy agency with which Aggarwal allegedly shared the secret documents. “We are trying to ascertain whether he collected information as per a plan and specific focus,” the source added.

So far, the probe has revealed that Aggarwal had been in touch with suspected Pakistani intelligence operatives through two “fake” Facebook accounts operating under the names of Neha Sharma and Pooja Ranjan for the past few years.

As per the fake accounts, while Sharma was “based” in London, Ranjan was from Chicago, US.

“As part of such honey trap operations, ISI agents posing as women strike friendship with defence employees. They either tell them that they are journalists seeking information or offer lucrative private jobs abroad. Aggarwal, despite being engaged in highly sensitive work, was casual on the internet and made himself an easy target,” said an ATS officer.

Aggarwal had last month come under the scanner of UP ATS and the Military Intelligence during a probe, wherein the agency had arrested a BSF jawan in Noida for allegedly sharing vital defence details with ISI agents who used social media to trap him, sources have said.

Agrawal was arrested on Monday in a joint operation by the ATS units of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra police at BrahMos’ Wardha Road facility. Several “incriminating” materials were recovered during searches at his office in Nagpur and residence in Roorkee.

BrahMos Aerospace is a joint venture between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Military Industrial Consortium of Russia. It is responsible for designing, developing, producing and marketing state-of-the-art supersonic ‘Brahmos’ cruise missiles.


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