DRDO scientist shared details of BrahMos, drones with Pak woman: ATS Chargesheettext_fields
Pune: Pradeep Kurulkar, the senior scientist at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) who was arrested on charges of espionage, is said to have shared crucial details of missiles, drones, and the duty chart sheet of the DRDO with a female Pakistani operative who identified herself as 'Zaradas Gupta,' according to the ATS chargesheet filed against him.
The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) submitted the chargesheet against Kurulkar, who has also a connection with the RSS, on June 30 in a special court in Pune.
The chargesheet includes extensive WhatsApp conversations between Kurulkar and the operative, code-named "Zara." In one conversation, Kurulkar is said to have claimed credit for designing a missile launcher, stating, "The launcher is my design babe." He further described it as a "Great success." Another chat allegedly discusses the Astra missile, with Kurulkar asserting that it is more accurate than the renowned "Meteor" missile.
The chargesheet spans six volumes and covers various topics, including the BrahMos and Agni 6 missiles, Rustom (a medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned air vehicle), Surface Air Missiles (SAM), Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAV), drone projects, and more. It also mentions the involvement of a private Indian defence company executive in the conversations.
Kurulkar, who held a prominent role in several crucial projects of the DRDO, such as the Agni missile and Mission Shakti (anti-satellite missile test), allegedly disregarded the nation's security and sovereignty by divulging classified information to the Pakistani operative. The ATS accuses Kurulkar of storing DRDO-related documents and information on his personal Android cell phone, a violation of security guidelines.
According to the chargesheet, the accused woman, suspected of being part of a honey trap operation, sought crucial military information from Kurulkar. The ATS suspects that communication between the two extended beyond WhatsApp and may have included email and Instagram exchanges. Notably, the chargesheet reveals that a "Gmail" address associated with a user in Pakistan was used for communication with Kurulkar.
The prosecution handed a copy of the chargesheet to the defence counsel during a recent hearing before Special Judge V.R. Kachare. The defence counsel, Rhishikesh Ganu, confirmed receiving the voluminous chargesheet and stated that further instructions would be sought from Kurulkar regarding the course of action.
Kurulkar was arrested on May 3 under the Official Secrets Act, which encompasses charges related to spying and wrongful communication with a Pakistani intelligence operative. The investigation has so far recorded statements from 203 witnesses, including DRDO officials and an Indian Air Force personnel who allegedly had contact with the Pakistani operative.
During the recent court hearing, Ganu submitted written arguments opposing the ATS's application for a polygraph, voice layer, and psychological analysis tests on Kurulkar. The scientist refused consent for these tests, citing a violation of his fundamental rights under articles 20 and 21 of the Constitution. The ATS will respond to these arguments in the upcoming hearing. Currently, Kurulkar remains in judicial custody at Yerwada jail.