Pradeep Kurulkar, a senior scientist at Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), was arrested in May for espionage under the Official Secrets Act (OSA)

The DRDO scientist, Pradeep Kurulkar, is accused of divulging confidential information on BrahMos missile and other projects to a Pakistani operative.

Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has found that defence scientist Pradeep Kurulkar told a Pakistani agent that he would show her a report on the BrahMos missile in person and the two also discussed other Indian missiles and drones, according to a report.

Kurulkar, a senior scientist at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), is under investigation for espionage. It is alleged that he leaked confidential information to a Pakistani intelligence operative (PIO). He was arrested in May and was slapped with the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

In its charge sheet filed in a court in Pune, the ATS has said that Kurulkar, 59, was "attracted" to the the Pakistani agent. It reportedly says that Kurulkar, head of DRDO’s Research and Development Establishment-Engineers (R&D-E), was well aware that the material he was discussing was classified and he was not supposed to share it. This is why, alleges the charge sheet, Kurulkar said he would show the BrahMos report in person.

The Indian Express further reported that the ATS also submitted "confidential" documents related to the investigation to the court in a sealed envelope.

What Does The ATS Charge Sheet Say?

In the DRDO espionage case related to Pradeep Kurulkar, the Maharashtra ATS has filed a 1,837-pages charge sheet spanning six volumes, reported The Express.

Kurulkar, 59, is accused of sharing confidential information with the Pakistani intelligence operative, who is also wanted in the case. The operative posed as a software engineer named "Zara Dasgupta" and trapped the scientist through "several obscene messages, and making voice and video calls".

"ATS has alleged Zara wanted to extract confidential information from Kurulkar about various DRDO and defence projects in India. He got “attracted” to her and allegedly misused his position to share confidential information," reported The Express.

The ATS has retrieved WhatsApp chat between Kurulkar and the Pakistani agent, detailing the conversations over Indian defence projects.

Between October 19-28, 2022, Kurulkar and the agent discussed the BrahMos missile project, a missile developed jointly by India and Russia, reports The Express.

When Zara asked if “Brahmos was also your invention babe….The dangerous one…”, Kurulkar replied: “I have initial design report some 186 A4 size on all Brahmos versions...I cannot send copy of that report to WA or mail it is highly classified… I will trace and keep it ready when you are here will try and show you here.”

This shows that, according to the ATS, that Kurulkar was well aware that he was divulging something he was not supposed and that's why he would show it when she "meets him personally", reported The Express.

Kurulkar and the operative "Zara" also discussed “Agni-6, Rustom [a drone], surface to air missiles, Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAV), and drone projects” of DRDO along with “quadcopter, DRDO duty chart, Meteor missile, Rafael, Akash, and Astra missile” and referred to a private Indian defence company executive who is a DRDO vendor and makes “robotic equipment” for Indian forces, reported The Express.

Kurulkar also shared a video of an under-development quadcopter with the agent that showed Navy personnel too, as per the chat retrieved, says the report.

What's The DRDO Espionage Case Case All About?

Pradeep Kurulkar, 59, was serving as the head of DRDO’s Research and Development Establishment-Engineers (R&D-E) when he was arrested in May by ATS.

Kurulkar was slapped with the Official Secrets Act (OSA) for sharing confidential information with the Pakistani intelligence operative.

It is alleged that the operative trapped Kurulkar through "several obscene messages, and making voice and video calls". It is understood to be a case of honey trapping.

A honeytrap refers to a situation where an intelligence agent or a spy 'traps' a target by seducing or getting him involved sexually, using the relationship as a leverage to get the job done. "In the world of espionage, sex is a weapon. ‘Honeytrap’ spies hide in plain sight, flirting around the edges of power waiting to ply their trade: sexpionage. The art of seducing an unsuspecting target for intelligence is as old as espionage itself," notes espionage-centric media organisation SpyScape.

An internal DRDO investigation also indicted Kurulkar, according to The Express. In the internal probe, "various electronic devices used by the accused, including cell phones, laptop and desktop hard discs, were seized by DRDO officials on February 24, 2023, for forensic investigation", as per procedure. The probe and a forensic report revealed that Kurulkar was allegedly in constant touch with the Pakistan agent through WhatsApp and shared sensitive information, as per the report.