An Indian engineer was honey-trapped by a ‘Pakistani female spy’ who added him on Facebook and obtained sensitive information about Indian missile development by promising him love and marriage.
The engineer was identified as 29-year-old Mallikarjuna Reddy, and was arrested from his house a week ago on Friday, after it was discovered that he had been sharing sensitive information with a woman named Natasha Rao on Facebook.
He had been working with the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) on an advanced naval system programme.
The alleged Pakistani female spy added him on Facebook under the name ‘Natasha Rao’, and claimed to be an employee at a UK defence journal. She told Reddy that her father had been a part of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The two kept talking over Facebook and eventually ‘fell in love’. Natasha Rao proposed to Reddy, and proceeded to obtain details about the naval system programme. According to Indian police officials, Reddy shared text and photos of the missile system with Natasha.
Eventually, after a year Natasha stopped talking to Reddy, and changed her name to Simran Chopra in December 2021, at which point Reddy became suspicious of her.
An Indian special operations team (SOT) along with the police took him into custody after being tipped off from intelligence agencies, who then booked him under the Official Secrets Act.
Indian police officials believe the woman to be linked to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Previously, a similar case happened in 2018 when an IAF officer was apprehended in Delhi on charges of espionage and leaking classified information.
Group Captain Arun Marwaha, 51, was caught leaking documents to two agents who chatted with him pretending to be women. He was also charged under the Official Secrets Act.