A contract employee of the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) in Hyderabad has been arrested for allegedly passing on classified defence information on India’s missile development to a suspected ISI operative in Pakistan via social media. On June 17, Friday, the 29-year-old accused, Dukka Mallikarjuna Reddy alias Arjun Bittu, was detained from his home in Triveni Nagar, Balapur, Hyderabad, by the Special Operations Team, LB Nagar Zone, Rachakonda, and Balapur police in a joint operation.
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 were present at the time of the arrest.
In a statement, the police informed, “On June 17, 2022, on credible information, the Sleuths of Special Operations Team, LB Nagar Zone, Rachakonda in a joint operation with Balapur Police, arrested the contractual employee of Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL) who has shared the highly secured 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.”
Reddy was arrested at the Balapur Police Station of the Rachakonda Police Commissionerate under sections 409 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and sections 3 (1) (C), 5 (3), and 5 (1) (A) of the Official Secret Act-1923. The officials have also taken his two cellphones, a SIM card, and a laptop.
Reddy was working on a classified advanced naval system development at the defence lab’s RCI site in Balapur, Hyderabad, according to reports. In March 2018, he updated his job status with DRDL on Facebook. He was contacted by a Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) handler under the identity Natasha Rao two years later, in March 2020. She described herself as an employee of the UK Defence Journal whose father served in the Indian Air Force before coming to the UK.
Reddy was contacted on social media by Natasha Rao alias Simran Chopra alias Omisha Addie, who then honey-trapped him under the guise of love and marriage and asked him to reveal sensitive information regarding the DRDL-RCI Complex.
Reddy continued to pass on classified defence information to the ISI handler until December last year, according to sources, but he became suspicious when Natasha changed her Facebook profile name to Simran Chopra and stopped speaking with him. During the inquiry, the police discovered that Natasha had also requested Reddy’s bank account information, although they have yet to determine whether she transferred money from the account.
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