The Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad said on Thursday that the scientist had been in contact with the Pakistani operative through voice messages and video calls over WhatsApp. He stands accused of offences punishable under sections 3 (spying) and 5 (wrongful communication of information) of the Official Secrets Act.
The court of special judge S R Navander remanded him in ATS custody till May 9.
The scientist’s arrest late Wednesday was on the basis of a complaint by an official of DRDO‘s vigilance and security office in Delhi. The scientist had allegedly shared with the Pakistani operative a photograph of a missile along with its location, besides some of his personal pictures that were later used to blackmail him.
“A DRDO inquiry officer had seized a laptop and two mobile phones belonging to the scientist on February 24, and a forensic analysis of the same confirmed that the scientist shared information with the Pakistani intelligence operative in what appears to be a honeytrap,” special public prosecutor Vijay Fargade told TOI.
Delhi-based DRDO spokesperson V K Kaushik declined to comment on the arrest “at this juncture”. A senior colleague of the arrested man described him as “one of our leading scientists in developing various launchers, including for missiles”.
“He has worked on some big projects over the last three decades, and is a recipient of an outstanding scientist award,” the colleague said.
A senior ATS officer who did not wish to be named said the Pakistani operative got a woman to befriend the arrested scientist on a social media platform. “The operative roped in a woman who posed as an engineering student from Ambala and approached the scientist for research in engineering equipment. Later, on the pretext of discussing her project, the girl started interacting with him over phone and sending messages.”
The Pakistani operative was to meet the scientist in New Delhi but never did so, the official said. “Later, she started blackmailing him with photos and clips of video calls.”
The scientist was apparently removed from his post two weeks before his arrest.