A senior Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientist posted in Pune was arrested by Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on May 4. He was arrested on espionage charges for allegedly leaking confidential information to a Pakistani Intelligence Operative through WhatsApp messages, voice and video calls.
Maharashtra ATS Kalachowki, Mumbai, filed a case under the Official Secrets Act 1923 and other relevant sections. As per the reports, the scientist is identified as Pradeep M Kurulkar. He is 59 years old and was working as Director of the Research & Development Establishment (Engineers) [R&DE(E)], a premier Systems Engineering Laboratory of DRDO in Pune, Maharashtra.
Pradeep Kurulkar has been sharing confidential information with a Pakistani intelligence agent since 2022, according to sources from the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS).
Pradeep Kurulkar, who had been honey-trapped by the woman agent, was arrested under the Official Secrets Act by the Maharashtra ATS, following which a court there remanded him in ATS custody till May 9. Sources said, “Kurulkar had been communicating with the agent via WhatsApp voice messages and video calls since September 2022.”
“ATS has seized several electronic devices like mobile phones, laptops etc from Kurulkar and has been sent for forensic detailing. Kurulkar had deleted some of the WhatsApp chats with the PIO girl,” the sources added. Further probe is being done by the ATS Pune team.
“The scientist had been removed as the Laboratory Director after our probe found that he was found indulging in leaking sensitive information,” a senior DRDO official told ANI.
“The agency had launched a probe against Purulkar after receiving inputs from other agencies about his activities online,” he added. “He had been attached to some office and we had already taken action against him,” the official added.
Officials said the agency is still carrying out an investigation into the issue and also sensitising its officials against indulging in any such activities on social media.
The R&D division is responsible for several important projects related to national interests, such as developing missiles etc. His field of expertise included the Design and Development of Missile Launchers, Military Engineering Equipment, Advanced Robotics and Mobile Unmanned Systems for Military Applications.
The ATS said, “A Defence Research and Development Organisation DRDO scientist, who was working in one of the facilities of DRDO in Pune, has been arrested by ATS on the charges of espionage. He was found to have had contact with the operatives of Pakistan’s Intelligence Agency through social media via WhatsApp messages, voice calls, video etc”.
ATS added, “Despite holding a responsible position, the DRDO official misused his post, thereby compromising sensitive government secrets, which could pose a threat to India’s security if it falls into the hands of the enemy nation”.
The investigating officer in the case is a Senior Police Inspector from the Anti-Terrorism Squad, Pune Unit. As per the reports, it’s believed that Kurulkar was honey-trapped and was in touch with Pakistani agents from September-October through voice messages and video calls since 2022. Therefore, it is suspected that he had given confidential information to them. The scientist will remain in the custody of ATS till May 9.
Who is PM Kurulkar?
According to the DRDO website, he was born in 1963. He joined DRDO at CVRDE, Avadi, after completing his Bachelor of Engineering (BE) in Electrical Engineering from COEP Pune in 1985 with first class with Distinction.
He went on to complete his advanced courses in Power Electronics coursework at IIT Kanpur with a focus on Drives and applications. He is described as an outstanding scientist and was responsible for developing Akash Ground Systems as Project Leader and System Manager.
As per the website, “He has been a key member of Akash team and has played a major role in the design, development and production of Akash Launchers and mission-critical Ground Systems”.