HAL employee sending secret info to ISI held

Updated: 10 October, 2020 07:37 IST | Faizan Khan | Mumbai

The assistant supervisor was honey-trapped in January 2019, shared details of fighter jets Sukhoi Su-30MKI and Tejas and of HAL's Nashik unit on WhatsApp

The Sukhoi Su-30MKI performs during the 88th Air Force Day parade at Hindon Air Force station, Ghaziabad. PIC/AFP
The Sukhoi Su-30MKI performs during the 88th Air Force Day parade at Hindon Air Force station, Ghaziabad. PIC/AFP

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has arrested an assistant supervisor of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for passing crucial and sensitive details of Indian fighter aircraft to Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) via WhatsApp chats and other social media apps.

The ATS found that the 41-year-old supervisor, Deepak Shirsat, was being honey-trapped by the ISI since January 2019. He has been arrested under Sections 3 (spying), 4 (communications with foreign agents to be evidence of commission of certain offences) and 5 (wrongful communication, etc., of information) of the Official Secrets Act.

The Nashik unit of ATS generated the intelligence that someone is supplying secret information about fighter aircraft and their manufacturing unit, that is HAL, Nashik, to a foreigner. "The accused was in constant touch with the Pakistan ISI and was supplying secret information about Indian fighter aircraft, including details of their production," said DCP Vinay Kumar Rathod

"Along with the information related to HAL, he also provided details of the aircraft manufacturing unit at Ozar, Nashik, the airbase and prohibited areas inside the manufacturing unit," Rathod said.

The ATS has seized three mobile phones, five SIM cards and two memory cards from Shirsat for forensic analysis.

According to sources, the information also included details related to the production of Sukhoi Su-30MKI and India's first indigenous multirole fighter jet Tejas.

"Our teams are in touch with the HAL to identify photographs of fighter aircraft and to verify other details," an officer said.

This is the second case in a week of a person being arrested for being in touch with ISI.

Youngster held earlier

Earlier, Sanjeev Kumar, 21, was arrested by police in Deolali for allegedly taking photographs of the defence area to send them on a WhatsApp group in Pakistan. Deolali houses defence establishments like artillery school, artillery centre and the Combat Army Aviation Training School. Such cases have put authorities on alert.

The accused Deepak Shirsat
The accused Deepak Shirsat

According to Nashik police, Kumar used to work at the military camp as a construction labourer. He was approached by ISI agents who'd pose as civilians and boast about Pakistan by sharing photos on WhatsApp. Kumar too would then boast about India by sharing photographs of the military camp. "We suspect that the ISI agents were trying to brainwash him and prepare him to get sensitive details of defence establishments," said Deepak Pandey, commissioner of Nashik city police.

A similar arrest was made by Kota police based on military intelligence. An Army carpenter was sharing details of sensitive establishments to ISI. He was found to be a part of 24 WhatsApp groups from Pakistan.

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First Published: 10 October, 2020 07:36 IST

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