AN ASSISTANT supervisor of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has been arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad for allegedly sharing secret information on Indian fighter aircraft with a person affiliated with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
The accused, Deepak Shirsat (41), was working at HAL’s Ozar unit in Nashik and was “honey-trapped” by the ISI into sharing vital information about Indian fighter aircraft in the production line of the company, officials said. He was arrested by ATS’s Nashik unit on Thursday under Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923 for spying and wrongful communication with foreign agents. A local court Friday remanded him to police custody for 10 days.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Vinay Rathod (ATS) said, “After sustained interrogation, it was revealed that shared secret information related to Indian aircraft being in the production line of HAL, manufacturing units and their plans, etc through WhatsApp and other social media (platforms).”
Officials said they received information that a person employed with HAL was supplying secret information about Indian fighter aircraft and their Nashik’s manufacturing unit to a foreigner allegedly affiliated with the ISI.
“Shirsat has been working with HAL for 16 years now. We have learnt that he has been sharing information since January 2019 and was honey-trapped into sharing the information with the ISI,” a senior IPS officer said. The officer said while it was not known exactly if Shirsat had shared compromising pictures or videos with a woman over which he was blackmailed into sharing vital information. “We are trying to ascertain its nature.”
Three mobile handsets with five sim and two memory cards have been seized from Shirsat and sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory for examination, officials said. “A technical analysis of the seized material will reveal what information the suspect provided to the ISI,” another officer said.
Last week, 21-year-old Sanjeev Kumar was arrested for taking photographs of the restricted army area at Deolali camp in Nashik and allegedly sending them to a Pakistani WhatsApp group.
Set up in 1964, HAL’s Ozar factory has built the Russian MiG-class aircraft and the Sukhoi. It also looks after the maintenance and repair work of the old aircraft that are still operational in the Indian Air Force and the ATS suspects Shirsat may have shared information on these aircraft with the ISI.
HAL spokesperson Gopal Sutar said as the investigation is on, they have no comments to offer.
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