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Home > Mumbai > Mumbai Crime News > Article > Mumbai DRDO scientist gave wrong laptop for forensic analysis says ATS

Mumbai: DRDO scientist gave wrong laptop for forensic analysis, says ATS

Updated on: 10 July,2023 06:59 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Faizan Khan | faizan.khan@mid-day.com

Further, investigators have also unearthed that Pradeep Kurulkar shared confidential contact details of his fellow scientists with the Pakistani honeypot masquerading as an Indian admirer

Mumbai: DRDO scientist gave wrong laptop for forensic analysis, says ATS

Pradeep Kurulkar, DRDO scientist. Imaging/Uday Mohite

The 1,800-page charge sheet filed by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has revealed alarming details. Among them, it states that Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientist Pradeep Kurulkar was involved in the unauthorised sharing of classified information regarding Indian missiles and other defence equipment. Additionally, he allegedly disclosed the contact numbers of two fellow scientist colleagues to a Pakistan Intelligence Operative (PIO). 


As part of their investigation, the ATS has taken statements from these two scientists to determine whether they were targeted by the PIO agents in an attempt to extract sensitive information from them.


Pradeep Kurulkar (in white face mask) produced in court in MayPradeep Kurulkar (in white face mask) produced in court in May


According to the charge sheet, Kurulkar was engaged in sharing confidential information with a PIO agent who identified herself as Zara Das Gupta. During the lengthy investigation, the police did not find any monetary transactions, revealing that it was just an exchange of nudes and sexting in which Kurulkar shared information about sensitive defense projects. In one of the chats with the PIO agent, Kurulkar shared his day-to-day routine with her and the contact numbers of the two Indian scientists who were handling crucial projects at the DRDO’s Pune unit. 

Here is an excerpt from the chat:
Kurulkar: Yes babe leopard worth forest officials
Kurulkar: Plan today 
1 Camera trap peripheries (deploying (specific numbers) traps from RESQ. Begin installation at 4pm.
2 thermal drone attached to DRDO/ RD&E drone scanning in the evening by scientist (name and number)
3 night patrolling
4 safety awareness material for people has been sent by (contact number  of the perosn
Kurulkar: Sniffer dog scanning for the confirmation of leopard present, check camera traps and report finding.
Zara: this is plan for today and tomorrow, it seems hectic
Zara: what about the second one ? Have you announced this project ? I mean in news.

Pradeep Kurulkar, DRDO scientistPradeep Kurulkar, DRDO scientist

The PIO agent seemed to be keeping a close eye on tweets by DRDO and other defence-related Twitter handles. In one of the chats, the PIO agent shared the Twitter link of an Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) project with Kurulkar. The chat follows as:
Zara: read this on twitter today
Zara: Amazing technology by DRDO
Zara: is this project completed ?
Zara: the video seems to be stimulated not real
Zara: is it ?
Kurulkar: almost
Kurulkar then shared seven different links containing details of the UCAV, including Google images, YouTube videos, and defence articles.
Zara: babe what is this ?
Kurulkar: UCAV

Apart from the details of the two scientists, Kurulkar also shared the details of private vendors who provide defence equipment to the Indian government.
The chargesheet also contains explosive chats about the Agni-6 missile launcher with the PIO agent. The chats about Agni-6 are as follows:
Zara: your test was successful?
Kurulkar: the launcher is my design babe
Zara: how was the test babe ?
Zara: successful or not
Kurulkar: great success
Zara: I mean new parameters or any change happens ?
Zara: Nd I heard it also Agni 6 it also on work progress uska test kab karna ?
Kurulkar: night fire
Kurulkar: Karenge thoda dhiraj rakho
Zara: babe, what do you mean by night fire ?
Zara: uske bad kaha jata hai ye army or airforce ?
Kurulkar: dono
Zara: Agni 6 kaha tak pahuncha you are working on that ?
Kurulkar: still sometime for it 

There were also chats about the Meteor missile, Rafael, AK system, and Astra missile:
Zara: I read the news that is about world dangerous missile meteor
Zara: itna expensive system are we capable ?
Zara: IAF displayed Rafale air French na
Zara: bcz I think Rafel France ka ha na babe
Kurulkar: but what is displayed here belongs to Indian airforce
Zara: common158@gmail.com
Zara: kings****
Zara: I mean new agreement hua a hamara country ka
Kurulkar: yep babe (specific details)
Kurulkar: (country name) is adding more orders
Zara: And babe have u seen Rafale ?
Kurulkar: yes saw its aerial show.
Zara: with meteor
Zara: live phase ma Rafale M by display hwa a purchase k liya ? I have seen news
Kurulkar: (specific details)

Kurulkar's Laptop: A twist in the espionage case?

According to reliable sources within the Maharashtra ATS, the retrieved chats between April 10, 2022, and February 24, 2023, indicate that Kurulkar had been in contact with the woman involved even before that time period. However, many of these have been deleted and couldn’t be retrieved. Furthermore, a twist emerged in the espionage case involving Kurulkar's laptop. It was discovered that the Apple MacBook provided to the ATS by DRDO did not belong to Kurulkar. This revelation surfaced when the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) failed to find any relevant information on the laptop. An investigation revealed a discrepancy in the serial number, indicating that DRDO had inadvertently handed over someone else's laptop to the ATS. The original laptop has now been shared with the ATS and sent to the FSL for data extraction. An anonymous officer from ATS confirmed, "We have informed the court about this development, and both DRDO and its officials have acknowledged that they inadvertently handed over someone else's laptop to the ATS. The original laptop has now been shared with us, and it was sent to the FSL on June 30th for data extraction."
The Maharashtra ATS is also investigating whether this mix-up was deliberate, possibly aimed at concealing crucial information that may have been present on 
the MacBook.

PIO in touch with airforce corporal

Additionally, the chargesheet reveals that the PIO agent was in touch with an air force corporal stationed at the Air Force Bangalore unit. The corporal provided an Indian number and OTP to the PIO agent to communicate with Kurulkar after Kurulkar blocked her number. However, due to the corporal's low rank and limited access to sensitive information, their conversations did not yield substantial results. The corporal has been enlisted as a witness in the case and has identified the audio recordings of the PIO agent communicating with Kurulkar as the same woman who 
contacted him under the name Juhi Arora.

1,800
No. of pages in the charge sheet

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