A DRDL engineer was recently arrested for leaking classified info to a Pakistani agent after being honeytrapped on Facebook. For the unversed, Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) is part of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) with work centered around development of classified missile systems.
The accused, identified as Dukka Mallikarjuna Reddy was arrested earlier on Friday thanks to a joint effort by Special Operations Team, and police teams from Hyderabad, Rachakonda, and Balapur. The accused was a contractual DRDL employee who was lured by an ISI operative on the pretext of marriage.
It all started back in March 2020 when the accused befriended a Facebook user called Natasha Rao on the social media platform. The user told Reddy that she was a UK Defence Journal staffer and further claimed that her father had worked with the IAF before he had to shift to the United Kingdom.
Over the course of the next few months, the duo became close friends on Facebook. Reddy was completely enamoured by ‘Natasha Rao’ who even promised her that she would marry him. Meanwhile. Reddy was sharing pictures and texts of classified documents pertaining to missile development.
After his arrest, Reddy was charged under multiple sections of the Indian Penal Code, and Officials Secret Act. Two cell phones, a SIM Card and a laptop were also seized from Reddy.
The Facts of the Matter
In several espionage and spy films, a woman often transforms her identity and tries getting closer to a spy and lures him in the web of seduction and false lies in exchange for classified data pertaining to security. This is not only true for films, but also for real worlds, and to curb such incidents countries across the world have formed anti-espionage acts.
Recently, a defence staffer in Hyderabad was arrested for sharing classified documents pertaining to missile development to a Pakistani agent. Unlike films though, the woman in question never truly met the honeytrapped accused, and did her job on Facebook.
Meet DRDL Staffer who Got Honeytrapped
The Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL) staffer was allegedly honeytrapped by an ISI operative. The operative lured the staffer on the pretext of marriage and the accused leaked classified information on missile development, the Telangana police alleged earlier this week. The accused was identified as Mallikarjuna Reddy, who was arrested from Telangana’s Meerpet on Friday.
Accused Arrested After Tip-Off
Working as a quality assurance engineer, Reddy was tasked in the development of advanced naval system program at the lab’s RCI complex, Balapur. The accused was arrested after the intelligence agencies received a tip-off on the matter and then a joint efforts of Special Operations Team, and Hyderabad, Balapur and Rachakonda police succeeded.
How was DRDL Staffer Honeytrapped
According to reports, Reddy had put a Facebook status about getting a new job at DRDL back in 2018. In 2020, he received a Facebook request from a user named Natasha Rao. Rao introduced herself to be a staffer from UK defence journal. She also told Reddy that her father belonged to IAF before he had to move to UK.
Sharing Pictures, Texts on Missile Development
Over the course of months, the two became close friends with Natasha going as far as putting a marriage proposal on the table. Reddy meanwhile started sharing pictures and text on DRDL missile development.
Natasha Rao Turned into Simran Chopra
The information sharing continued till December 2021, when Reddy was shocked to see that Natasha changed her profile picture and name to Simran Chopra. After his arrest, Reddy was charged with multiple sections of Indian Penal Code, and sections from Official Secrets Act, 1923.
For the unversed, the Official Secrets Act 1923 is India’s anti-espionage act were helping a person from enemy state against India is criminalized.