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Congress claims Govt using spyware

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 19, 2021

BJP refutes accusations of using Pegasus to hack into smartphones of key figures

The Opposition attacked the Centre over the recent revelations of hacking cell phones of political leaders, Army officials, judges, bureaucrats and journalists and alleged that the BJP is trying to enforce “surveillance raj”. The ruling party refuted all the allegations. It said the timing of such reports in media is aimed at disturbing the Monsoon Session of Parliament and also doubted “anti-India” campaign behind the move.

The Opposition’s claim follows reports by an independent news website that an unidentified agency has used spyware Pegasus, allegedly sold to governments by NSO group, an Israeli company, to spy on journalists, officials, ministers and politicians.

The Congress charged that “the revelations are shocking and sensational and reflect treasonous and inexcusable dismantling of national security by the BJP Government.” The party demanded the resignation of Union Home Minister Amit Shah over the reports. Rule of law, fundamental right to privacy and Constitutional duties have been murdered in broad day light by the Modi Government, accused Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Randeep Singh Surjewala at a press conference here on Monday.

BJP dismisses allegations

Former Union Minister and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad refuted all the allegations and said Union IT Minister has confirmed that for lawful interceptions of a phone can only be made as per relevant rules under provisions of Section 5 of Indian Telegraph Act along with the permission of Home Secretary of the Centre or of the State. Those who have broken the story themselves did not claim that a presence of a particular number in the database does not confirm that it is infected with Pegasus. It is important to reveal all these facts in front of the nation,” he said addressing reporters at the BJP headquarters. He added that there is a pre-planned strategy behind bringing the reports ahead of the session.

The Congress leaders alleged that the Modi Government is the deployer and executor of this illegal and unconstitutional snooping and spying racket through Israeli surveillance software ‘Pegasus’.

“Is spying on India’s security forces, Judiciary, Cabinet Ministers, Opposition leaders, journalists and other activists through a foreign entity’s spyware not ‘treason’ and inexcusable breach of national security?,” asked Surjewala. “Why was Modi Government spying on its citizens and political leaders before and in the run-up to 2019 General Elections to Parliament of India as also thereafter?,” he added.

Come clean: CPI(M)

The CPI(M) said the investigations reveal that the smart phones of a large number of journalists and human rights activists have been targeted for hacking for surveillance. “With these revelations, it is clear that this government has engaged NSO for such surveillance against its own citizens. The Central government must come clean on what is its engagement with NSO, what are the terms and how much our public funds have been paid for this,” a statement from the CPI(M) added.

Published on July 19, 2021

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