The arrest of Nishant Agarwal, a young, bright scientist working for BrahMos Aerospace Limited, on October 9 from Nagpur exposes how vulnerable our sensitive and sophisticated defence installations are to foreign spying agencies.
Senior security agencies have said that the scientist was working for the notorious Pakistani intelligence agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), and possibly some other undesirable entities, selling sensitive BrahMos-related secrets.
This is a huge security breach.
Nishant Agarwal was arrested from BrahMos Aerospace Limited, Nagpur. (Photo: PTI/file)
Credit to bust the spy ring deservedly goes to the Anti Terror Squads (ATS) of Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, and to our military establishment, for working in perfect coordination to prevent more damage to our security concerns.
Meanwhile, we learn that two DRDO scientists are also under watch for suspicions activities. In the interests of tangible results, it would perhaps have been more appropriate to withhold this information, lest the concerned are alerted and the agencies’ efforts aborted. However, their likely arrests, and the interrogation of Nishant Agarwal, are expected to shed more light on the ISI network and activities in India, which seem to be firmly in place, trying to break into our security apparatus through the age-old unethical means of spying.
It’s time now to delve into Nishant’s motivation to commit this anti-patriotic act, which has brought shame and infamy to himself, his family, and above all, his country. Nishant was a gold medalist from NIT Kurukshetra. He is known to be affable, and hitherto showed no signs of caving to anti-India forces. ATS sources say he was possibly honey-trapped, as preliminary probes indicate he was chatting with a woman ‘friend’ in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, a section of missile scientists, who are knowledgeable about Nishant Agarwal and his projects, reckon that he did not have access to major secrets, as he was too junior. For argument’s sake, we can agree that Nishant himself was not privy to sensitive information, but the modus operandi chosen by spies is to task their man to seek information from his colleagues. While one is not yet certain as to how Nishant operated, it is possible he used members of his fraternity to glean sensitive intelligence and then pass it on.
Preliminary probe suggests Nishant might have been honey-trapped. (Photo: Twitter)
Here, it may be pertinent to point out that in the not-so-distant past, we had heard of an erstwhile R&AW officer, Rabinder Singh, employing this technique of eliciting information, as demanded by his handlers.
The ISI has been active in India almost right from its inception. It has recruited agents in India for intelligence on our defence installations, for political assessments, and in a variety of other areas of vital importance.
For example, their agents have been caught gathering information from Meerut or Bareilly cantonments, or, for that matter, targeting Babina (location of 31st Armoured division under 11 corps of the Indian Army) in August 2017. Similarly, there were ISI designs to penetrate the Garden Reach Ship Building Yard to collect detailed information of ships under construction. The ISI has also tried to target the BSF and its intelligence wing. Some spies arrested in the past few years include Sajeed Muneer, Bodhraj, Nandlal Maharaj, Mohammad Eizaz and Thameem Ansari.
For gathering information on political matters, the ISI had allegedly recruited a personal assistant of Samajwadi Party MP Munawwar Saleem.
The list is endless, and India would have sustained severe damage if not for the preemptive actions by our vigilant counter-intelligence forces.
This time, the ISI targeted a BrahMos missile scientist. Now that its blueprint stands exposed, it is imperative for our counter-intelligence bodies to act in unison and foil further attempts of compromising our security through enemies within.