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Nishant Agrawal, a former BrahMos scientist, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a sessions court for leaking military secrets to Pakistan. Agrawal, who worked in the missile assembly unit in Nagpur, was a distinguished missile engineer until his arrest. The court convicted him under Section 235 of the Criminal Procedure Code, finding him guilty of offences punishable under Section 66(f) of the IT Act and various sections of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) for divulging critical armament information to foreign entities.

The investigation, led by Pankaj Awasthi of the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad (UP-ATS), uncovered a sophisticated espionage operation. During the trial, Awasthi testified that a Pakistani agent using the pseudonym ‘Sejal’ had established a Facebook account to connect with Agrawal. This account was used to deploy malicious applications such as Qwhisper, Chat to Hire, and X-trust. These apps, laden with malware, successfully infiltrated Agrawal’s laptop, extracting classified information.

Further investigations revealed that Agrawal’s personal computers contained sensitive documents pertaining to the BrahMos missile, a violation of BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited’s (BAPL) stringent security protocols. The breach not only compromised national security but also highlighted vulnerabilities in the protection of critical defense technology.

Nishant Agrawal’s case has sent shockwaves through India’s defense community, emphasizing the persistent threat of cyber-espionage. Despite his accolades and contributions to the missile program, Agrawal’s actions have underscored the necessity for robust cyber-security measures and constant vigilance against insider threats.

The sentencing serves as a stern warning to individuals handling sensitive information, reinforcing the severe consequences of espionage. As the defense sector increasingly relies on digital systems, this case exemplifies the critical need for enhanced security protocols and the importance of safeguarding national secrets against foreign adversaries.