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Home > Mumbai > Mumbai News > Article > Maharashtra ATS files detailed chargesheet against DRDO scientist in espionage case

Maharashtra ATS files detailed chargesheet against DRDO scientist in espionage case

Updated on: 08 July,2023 07:22 AM IST  |  Pune
Faizan Khan | faizan.khan@mid-day.com

In detailed charge sheet, police use chat transcripts to expose how lecherous DRDO scientist kept sharing details of top-secret weapons programme

Maharashtra ATS files detailed chargesheet against DRDO scientist in espionage case

Pradeep Kurulkar at a Pune court

The Maharashtra ATS has recently filed a detailed chargesheet against Pradeep Kurulkar, a renowned scientist from the DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organization) posted as director of Research and Development Establishment (R&DE) Engineers (E). The chargesheet alleges that Kurulkar has been involved in sharing sensitive and classified information with a Pakistan Intelligence Operative (PIO) who identified herself as Zara Das Gupta to him. This information exchange is said to have taken place in exchange of explicit online conversations. The charge sheet also claims that Kurulkar downloaded some software which had malware and PIO may have got more sensitive details from his phone by accessing it with the help of the software.


The charge sheet, comprising 1,800 pages, was filed before the Pune sessions court last week. It highlights the gravity of the situation by revealing that the leaked information includes crucial details pertaining to various defense technologies. Some of the specific technologies mentioned in the charge sheet are the Brahmos and Agni 6 missile launchers, Surface-to-Air Missiles, Anti-Satellite Missiles, Rustom DRDO (an unmanned aerial vehicle), Mentor Missile, Rafael (presumably referring to the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems), AK system (possibly referring to AK-series firearms), Astra missile (an air-to-air missile), as well as defense drones. To address the legal process, Kurulkar’s lawyer was formally handed the charge sheet on Friday, ensuring that the accused scientist and his legal team are informed about the allegations made against him.


Two women’s statements


The ATS charge sheet which has 203 witnesses in the case including two women with whom Kurulkar was having an illicit affair. One of them was the vendor of DRDO’s Pune office which was headed by Kurulkar. The officials said that their statement was recorded to prove that he was having an affair with multiple women and hence he also fell for the honey trap and on the exchange of nude pictures sent by the Pakistani spy, shared very sensitive information despite knowing the fact that it can put the sovereignty and security of the nation at risk.

Pradeep KurulkarPradeep Kurulkar

Officials have emphasized that the statements from the two women were recorded to establish that Kurulkar was engaged in multiple extramarital relationships. This fact is crucial to demonstrate how he became susceptible to a honey trap situation. The charge sheet presents these details to support the case against Kurulkar, highlighting the compromising situation he found himself in and the potential consequences of his actions on the nation’s security.

The charge sheet also includes highly sensitive information concerning defense projects, including their testing, designs, and related details, which were discovered on Kurulkar’s personal phone. “We cannot confirm whether this information was shared with the Pakistani spy, but it is against the official secret act for Kurulkar to possess such information on his personal cellphone,” stated an officer from the ATS.

Sensitive details

The information retrieved from Kurulkar’s personal phone consists of various sensitive details, such as the composition of materials used in defense projects, a PowerPoint presentation presented at a defense event in Gujarat, information regarding the Aakash Launcher, procurement details from the National Aerospace Laboratories, the VTOL Anonymous Aerial Vehicle system, and other similarly sensitive pieces of information. “Some data has already been retrieved by forensics, while some reports are still pending to ascertain if the same was shared with the Pakistan spy,” said an officer.

As per the charge sheet, the Pakistani spy, Zara Das Gupta, used to send links related to the projects Kurulkar was involved in, and he would then share detailed information about those projects. Gupta also used to share details and videos posted on DRDO’s official Twitter handle, providing explanations in great detail.

According to the charge sheet filed by the Maharashtra ATS, Kurulkar is alleged to have shared information about the CEO of a private company that supplies defense-related equipment to the Indian government. This company specializes in manufacturing defense robots, and Kurulkar claimed to have prior work experience with the CEO. Additionally, Kurulkar has shared details about several individuals associated with DRDO, but mid-day has chosen not to disclose these details due to their highly sensitive nature.

Furthermore, investigators have discovered that Kurulkar used to share DRDO duty charts with the Pakistani spy. “The chats revealed that Kurulkar shared his personal and official day-to-day work schedule, including meetings and locations, with a Pakistan Intelligence Operative (PIO),” states the charge sheet.

The comprehensive investigation conducted by the Pune Unit of the Maharashtra ATS suggests that the PIO may have gained access to Kurulkar’s entire phone. It is suspected that Kurulkar unknowingly downloaded software infected with malware, raising concerns that additional highly sensitive information might have been compromised and transferred to the PIO.

According to the charge sheet, Zara Dasgupta had sent some apps link such as Bingechat.net and cloudchat.net.in to accused Kurulkar’s mobile over WhatsApp and insisted he download and install it on his mobile. For that purpose she sent her 3 Gmail IDs and passwords to him. As per her direction, the accused downloaded the said apps on his mobile. By using this app there might be a chance of malware been inserted in the accused mobile and that such malware was also found by DRDO’s experts during his mobile forensics analysis, this detailed report has been submitted by DRDO to ATS. Also the said apps traces have been found in his mobile extraction.

The media

As per the ATS investigation, Zara Dasgupta frequently communicated with the accused, Kurulkar, using various contact methods such as WhatsApp and Instagram. The contact number used by Gupta was +47874137093. Moreover, the investigation revealed that Gupta utilized multiple Gmail IDs, namely 26sweerpanda@gmail.com, dreamgirl56@email.com, and Common158@smail.com. Notably, the IP address associated with these email accounts was traced to Islamabad, Pakistan, providing further evidence during the investigation. Kurulkar was arrested by Maharashtra ATS on June 3 based on the complaints made by DRDO under various sections of the Official Secrets Act.

How ‘Zara Das Gupta’ charmed information out of Pradeep Kurulkar through chats

The ATS charge sheet has brief details of the chats which Pradeep Kurulkar had with PIO agent Zara Das Gupta regarding every defence project. In most of the chats they refer to each other as babe. The chargesheet has said that it has been carefully scrutinised and analysed by  Investigation Officer PI Sujata Tanawade. It was revealed that the accused was in continuous touch with Zara Das Gupta, an agent of PIO over WhatsApp, video and voice calls. “Their chat conversations revealed that accused willfully discussed his profession and working details with Zara Das Gupta,” reads the chargesheet. There are similar chats regarding Agni-6 missile launcher, meteor missile, Rafel, AK system, Astra, MBDA, but since they have sensitive defence information we are not publishing them.

Chat About Rustom (an unmanned aerial vehicle)

Zara: Rustom got protocol
Kurulkar: It is well decided in advance
Zara: How many rustom you have make (SIC)
Zara: I think sif ak Ka lya itna struggle to nae hnga (SIC)
Kurulkar: No of them we tried few dozens
Zara: Like we can say test was successful in Hyderabad
Kurulkar: No test was in (location cannot be shared) I monitored it from Hyderabad and we collectively analyzed results and then it was declared successful
Zara: I think your test was successful
Zara: in rustum 2
Kurulkar: Aare, there are no such projects and work continues.

Chats about Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM)

Zara: (image) babe I just saw this, are you working on this?
Kurulkar: yep, I also work on SAMs
Zara: how long it will be complete babe ?
Kurulkar: in next couple of weeks.
Zara: you will give it to army or airforce ?
Kurulkar: both army and airforce
Zara: so testing and trials are completed?
Kurulkar: last night blast
Zara: or you are successful
Kurulkar: yep
Kurulkar: shares link of Indian made drone with Zara
Zara: Wao
Zara: it’s a new project ?
Zara: (image) babe I saw this, are you working on this ?
Kurulkar: no see testing and then meeting. (SIC)
Zara: testing of what? The link u sent ?
Kurulkar: some system. Something different
Zara: you wil show me how much your drones picture quality ? I wanna see, I mean they age different from normal once? (SIC)
Kurulkar: yes

Chats about Brahmos

Zara:  Brahmos was also your invention babe ?
Zara: this is dangerous one
Kurulkar: I have initial design reports (some specific details of Brahmos mid-day won’t publish)
Zara: Babeeeee
Zara: it’s an air launched version na
Zara: we have discussed earlier?
Kurulkar: yep (specific details )
Zara: how many aircraft have been modified to this babe ? I think bht zyada it’s a great number babe
(mid-day has withheld further chats here as they have sensitive defence information)
Zara: babe u ignored my message
Kurulkar: babe I cannot send copy of that report on WA or mail it as it’s highly classified … I’ll trace and keep it ready when you are here. will try and show you here.

Chats about 

Surface to Air Missile (SAM)
Zara- Babe I just saw this are you working on this
Kurulkar- Yep, I also work on SAMs
Zara- How long will it be complete babe
Kurulkar- In next couple of weeks.
Zara- You will give it to army or airforce
Kurulkar- Both army and airforce
Zara- So testing and trials are completed

Chats about Brahmos

Zara- Brahmos was also your invention babe ?
Zara- This is dangerous one
Kurulkar- I have initial design reports (some specific details of Brahmos mid-day is not mentioning)
Zara- Babeeeee
Zara- It’s an air launched version na
Zara- We have discussed earlier
Kurulkar- Yep (specific details)

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