HYDERABAD: A contractual employee of the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) located in Kanchan Bagh in Hyderabad was arrested on Friday for passing confidential defence information on India’s missile development to an alleged ISI operative in Pakistan.
The 29-year-old accused, identified as Dukka Mallikarjuna Reddy was arrested from his residence in Triveni Nagar, Balapur, Hyderabad during a joint operation by the Special Operations Team, LB Nagar Zone, Rachakonda, and Balapur police on June 17, Friday.
The accused shared highly secure and confidential information of DRDL-RCI Complex through social media to a suspected ISI female handler which is prone to create harm to national integrity and security,” a statement issued by the police read. According to reports in OpIndia, Mallikarjuna was working on a classified advanced naval system programme at the defence lab’s RCI complex in Balapur
He updated his job status with DRDL on Facebook in March 2018. Two years later, in March 2020, he was contacted by a Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) handler who was using the name Natasha Rao. She introduced herself as a journalist with the UK Defence Journal and that her father served in the Indian Air Force before relocating to the United Kingdom.
Natasha Rao alias Simran Chopra alias Omisha Addie befriended him on Facebook and then honey-trapped him under the pretext of love and marriage, and asked him to leak sensitive information about the DRDL-RCI Complex.When Mallikarjuna asked for videos and pictures she refused to give them and trapped him only through text and voice messages.
From 2019-2021 he shared confidential information about the missile components. He also shared the K –Series Code used for missile launch from a submarine. According to reports, Reddy kept transferring confidential defence details to the ISI handler until December last year, During the investigation, the police found that Natasha had also sought the bank account details of Reddy, but they are yet to confirm if she transferred money from the account or not.
According to the police, Mallikarjuna was born and brought up at Naval Armament Depot (NAD) Quarters in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, and his father worked as a Chargeman Civilian in NAD and retired in 2014. He completed his B.Tech (Mechanical) from Visakhapatnam and later did his MBA (Marketing) from Hyderabad in 2020. He joined the Patancheru branch of a Bengaluru-headquartered company and worked on a project from DRDL till January 2020. After the project, he directly approached DRDL authorities and got enrolled as a contract employee for a project with RCI Balapur.
The arrests were made under the supervision of Rachakonda Police Commissioner Mahesh M Bhagwat, Additional Commissioner of Police G Sudheer Babu, LB Nagar DCP Sunpreeth Singh, DCP (SOT) K Muralidhar and Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Operations Team, Rachakonda.
He was booked under sections 409 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and sections 3 (1) (C), 5 (3), 5 (1) (A) of Official Secret Act-1923 at Balapur Police Station of Rachakonda Police Commissionerate. His two mobile phones, a SIM card, and a laptop have also been seized by the authorities.
Hyderabad police are planning to take him into custody, based on his statements and the voice clippings of the operative which were recorded on his mobile.