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Life Imprisonment to Ex-Brahmos Engineer

Ex-Brahmos Aerospace engineer Nishant Agarwal was sentenced to life in jail by a Nagpur court on Monday for allegedly spying for Pakistan’s ISI. Nishant Agarwal was detained in 2018 on suspicion of providing Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI, with information on the Brahmos missile.

Agrawal served as a senior system engineer with Brahmos Aerospace, a joint venture between the Russian Military Industrial Consortium (NPO Mashinostroyenia) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Brahmos Aerospace developed India’s supersonic cruise missile, which could be fired from land, the air, the sea, and underwater.

Agarwal will also have to undergo rigorous imprisonment (RI) for 14 years and was also fined ₹3,000.

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

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

Agarwal was granted bail by the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court last April.

The case in 2018 created a ripple as it was the first spy scandal that hit Brahmos Aerospace. Agarwal was in touch with suspected Pakistani intelligence operatives through two Facebook accounts — Neha Sharma and Pooja Ranjan. These accounts, based out of Islamabad, were believed to be run by Pakistan’s intelligence operatives.

Nishant Agarwal was a winner of the Young Scientists award by the Defence Research and Development Organisation and hence his involvement in such an activity shocked his colleagues. He was known as a bright engineer, studied at the National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra.

Cops who investigated the case said Nishant made himself an easy target by his casual approach on the internet, though he was engaged in highly sensitive work.

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