The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Maharashtra police, has said that Pradeep Kurulkar, a scientist working for the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), was lured by a Pakistani Intelligence Operative using the alias ‘Zara Dasgupta.’
In a chargesheet, the ATS has said that Kurulkar disclosed classified information about Indian missile systems and other sensitive defence projects to ‘Zara Dasgupta.’
Pradeep Kurulkar, who served as the director at one of the DRDO labs in Pune, was arrested on May 3 under the Official Secrets Act and is currently in judicial custody. The chargesheet reveals that Kurulkar and ‘Zara Dasgupta’ maintained communication through platforms such as WhatsApp, voice calls, and video calls.
‘Dasgupta’ claimed to be a software engineer based in the UK and established a connection with Kurulkar by sending explicit messages and videos.
During the investigation, it was discovered that the IP address of ‘Zara Dasgupta’ was traced back to Pakistan, suggesting that the person behind the alias was a Pakistani agent.
The chargesheet further states that the Pakistani operative attempted to acquire classified and sensitive information related to various defence systems, including the Brahmos Launcher, Drone, UCV, Agni Missile Launcher, and Military Bridging System, among others.
“Kurulkar, who was attracted to her, stored the classified and sensitive information of DRDO on his personal phone and then allegedly shared it with Zara,” the chargesheet said.
According to the charge sheet, Pradeep Kurulkar was involved in discussions with a person named ‘Zara Dasgupta’ regarding various defence projects, including surface-to-air missiles (SAM), drones, Brahmos and Agni Missile Launchers, and Unmanned Combat Vehicles (UCV). These conversations took place between June 2022 and December 2022.
Interestingly, just before the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) initiated an internal investigation into Kurulkar’s suspicious activities, he blocked Zara’s number in February 2023. However, shortly after blocking her, he received a WhatsApp message from an unknown Indian number asking him why he had blocked their number.
The chat records presented in the chargesheet also indicated that Kurulkar shared his personal and official schedules and locations with Zara, despite being aware that he was not allowed to share such information with anyone.