How did a BrahMos Aerospace engineer get trapped in Pakistan's trap? Life imprisonment on charges of espionage

Ananya Shroff
4 Min Read

New Delhi: Nishant Agarwal, a former engineer of BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited, has been sentenced to life imprisonment. The Nagpur District Court gave this verdict on Monday. Agarwal was convicted under the Official Secrets Act for espionage activities on behalf of Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI. Along with life imprisonment, he was also sentenced to 14 years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 3,000.

What is the whole matter?

In 2018, the case created a stir across the country as it was the first case of espionage related to BrahMos Aerospace. Agarwal was in touch with suspected Pakistani intelligence agents through two Facebook accounts Neha Sharma and Pooja Ranjan. These accounts operated from Islamabad are believed to be run by Pakistani intelligence agents. He was arrested in 2018 by Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra ATS and Military Intelligence near Nagpur for leaking information about the BrahMos missile. After the arrest, Nishant Agarwal was sent to judicial custody. A case was registered against him under the IT Act and Official Secrets Act. The investigating agencies have claimed that his computers and other digital devices were examined and it was found that sensitive data was transferred.

Who is Nishant Agarwal?

Nishant Agarwal graduated in Mechanical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Ropar. After this, he started working as an engineer in BrahMos Aerospace. Due to his expertise, he was promoted to several important positions in BrahMos Aerospace in a very short time and became an important member of the team working on missile projects.

Accused of giving information to Pakistani intelligence agency ISI

Agarwal was employed in the technical research division at the company's missile centre in Nagpur and was arrested in 2018 in a joint operation by the Military Intelligence Division and Anti-Terrorism Squads (ATS) of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. An FIR was registered against the former BrahMos Aerospace engineer under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the stringent Official Secrets Act. Agarwal had been working at the BrahMos centre for four years and was accused of passing on sensitive technical information to Pakistan's Inter Service Intelligence (ISI). BrahMos Aerospace is a joint venture of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia's Military Industrial Union. Agarwal was granted bail by the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court in April last year.

Guilty under which section?

In his order, Additional Sessions Court Judge MV Deshpande said that Agrawal is convicted under Section 235 of the Indian Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) for the offence committed under Section 66 (F) of the Information Technology Act and various sections of the Official Secrets Act. Special Public Prosecutor Jyoti Vajani said, 'The court sentenced Agrawal to life imprisonment and 14 years rigorous imprisonment under the Official Secrets Act and imposed a fine of Rs 3,000.'

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