BrahMos techie lured with fake ID to download spyware: Anti-Terror Squad

Vivek Deshpande
Nishant Agrawal, a techie with BrahMos Aerospace Limited (BAPL), was arrested in October. (File)

The UP Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has told a Lucknow court that a techie with BrahMos Aerospace Limited (BAPL), whom it had arrested last October from Nagpur for allegedly being in touch online with suspected Pakistani agents posing as women, had downloaded three types of spyware on the instructions of one of them who posed as a UK-based aviation recruiter.

The ATS charge is part of a complaint it filed against the Senior Systems Engineer, identified as 27-year-old Nishant Agrawal, with the Special Chief Judicial Magistrate (Customs) in Lucknow on January 7, 2019.

Three months ago, the case was transferred to a Nagpur court, which on Thursday rejected Agrawal s application for non-extension of remand.

We will move the sessions court on July 3, said Prakash Jaiswal, Agrawal s lawyer. Agrawal, who was booked under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), is currently under solitary confinement in Nagpur s Central Prison.

In its complaint, the ATS claimed that it found on Agrawal s personal computer at his rented house in Nagpur details of communication on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Chat between him and at least three women Neha Sharma, Pooja Ranjan and Sejal Kapoor which were fake IDs of members of Pakistan s spy apparatus.

READ | BrahMos engineer arrested for leaking sensitive data: Police

According to ATS, Agrawal also illegally stored sensitive information about BrahMos missiles being manufactured at an India-Russia joint venture unit near Nagpur on his personal computer.

BrahMos Aerospace was set up in 1998 under an inter-government agreement between India and Russia.

The ATS charge is part of a complaint it filed against the Senior Systems Engineer, identified as 27-year-old Nishant Agrawal, with the Special Chief Judicial Magistrate (Customs) in Lucknow on January 7, 2019. (Source: Facebook)

Its website says it is responsible for designing, developing, producing and marketing the BRAHMOS supersonic cruise missile with active participation of a consortium of Indian and Russian industries .

The ATS complaint also includes a letter form S S Deo, the managing director of BrahMos Aerospace s Nagpur unit, stating that the storage of data by Agrawal was unauthorised . The letter states that the data is very confidential and could prove detrimental to country s security and sovereignty, if obtained by an enemy country.

It claims that Agrawal allegedly copied the information from an official computer used earlier by an inpidual identified as Alen M Abraham, who had left the organisation for pursuing a PhD in Canada. This happened four years ago, without Abraham s knowledge , when Agrawal was under training in BrahMos s Hyderabad office, it states.

The complaint states that the ATS zeroed in on Agrawal s communication with the ID of Sejal Kapoor sejal1995@yandex.com. It claims Agrawal downloaded the spyware, chat2hire, xTrust and q-Whisper, as directed by the person operating the ID on December 18 and 21, 2017, and February 19, 2018.

The ATS claimed that Agrawal told them he came across this ID on the Internet, and that the person operating it claimed to be a recruiter for Hays Specialist Recruitment, UK, in the aviation sector.

According to ATS, Agrawal allegedly responded: I am interested .

He also sent his profile on an email ID provided by this person, who responded that it had been forwarded to the company and that a manager would like to talk to you through a link he was asked to download, the complaint states.

The ATS has claimed that Agrawal told them he downloaded xTrust and spoke to the manager for a while before the link got disconnected. Sejal then sent him another link to q-whisper, which got disconnected, too, the ATS said.

Then, it claimed, the person operating the fake ID gave Agrawal a code hyn272 for a chat followed by another link and asked him to uninstall the previous programmes. The ATS complaint states that it found no appropriate reason for Agrawal to be in touch with the two other fake IDs.