Former Aerospace engineer Nishant Agarwal gets lifer for spying for Pakistan

Ex-BrahMos Aerospace engineer Nishant Agarwal gets lifer for spying for Pakistan’s ISI Photo Courtesy:  Image posted on Facebook by Nishant Aagarwal

The Nagpur district court on Monday sentenced former BrahMos Aerospace Pvt Ltd engineer Nishant Agarwal to life imprisonment under the Official Secrets Act for espionage activities on behalf of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI, media reported.

Agarwal was also sentenced to 14 years of rigorous imprisonment (RI) and fined INR 3,000, according to reports.

Additional sessions court judge MV Deshpande, in the order, stated that Agarwal was convicted under section 235 of the Criminal Procedure Code for offenses punishable under section 66 (f) of the IT Act and various sections of the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

The 2018 case evoked shock and dismay as it was the first spy scandal to impact BrahMos Aerospace, involving a young talented engineer.

Agarwal allegedly was in continuous contact with two Facebook accounts, namely Neha Sharma and Pooja Ranjan, which were handled by Pakistani intelligence operatives from Islamabad.

“The court sentenced Agarwal to life imprisonment and RI for 14 years under the Official Secrets Act and fined him Rs 3,000,” said Special Public Prosecutor Jyoti Vajani, according to reports.

Nishant Agarwal, who was employed in the technical research section at BrahMos Aerospace’s missile center in Nagpur, was arrested in 2018 in a joint operation by military intelligence and the Anti-Terrorism Squads (ATS) of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.

He was senior system engineer at BrahMos Aerospace, a collaboration between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s Military Industrial Consortium (NPO Mashinostroyenia).

BrahMos Aerospace specialises in the development of India’s supersonic cruise missile, capable of deployment from various platforms, including land, air, sea, and underwater.

The former engineer was charged under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the stringent Official Secrets Act (OSA) for allegedly leaking sensitive technical information to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Agarwal had worked at the BrahMos facility for four years before his arrest.

Nishant Agarwal was a recipient of the Young Scientists award from the Defence Research and Development Organisation. He surprised his colleagues with his involvement in such activities, an Hindustan Times report said.

He was recognised as a talented engineer and had studied at the National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra.

The investigators probing the case said that Nishant’s casual attitude, despite his involvement in extremely sensitive work, on the internet made him an easy target, reported Hindustan Times.

Last April, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court granted Agarwal bail.