New Delhi, Oct 31 : In the wake of reports of snooping of some Indians by an Israeli agency, the Congress on Thursday accused the government of being behind it and demanded an investigation monitored by the Supreme Court.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said his party suspects that even judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, besides many opposition leaders, have been snooped upon.
The allegation comes in the wake of reports that WhatsApp of some journalists and activists was breached by an Israeli agency NSO by using ‘Pegasus’ surveillance software. The list and identity of the persons targeted has not been released.
“We suspect that many opposition leaders and judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts are in this list,” Surjewala said.
He said the government should tell which agency of the Government of India has purchased and deployed the ‘Pegasus’ surveillance software and who has authorised them to do so, NSA or PMO?
“We urge the Supreme Court to take suo moto cognizance of this brazen and blatant illegal hacking of telephones and introduction of the spyware by the BJP government agencies and conduct a court-monitored inquiry,” the Congress spokesperson said.
Referring to Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s tweet in which he said WhatsApp has been asked to “explain” snooping, Surjewala said, this is “pot calling the cattle black”.
As per reports, the spyware ‘Pegasus’ not only reaches the WhatsApp but is able to turn on the phone’s camera and microphone to capture all activities in the vicinity of the phone, besides hacking all the security features of the phone, including listening to and sending passwords, contact lists, calendar events, text messages and live voice calls.
Facebook, owner of WhatsApp, has admitted that nearly 1,400 people, majority of them are Indians, have been affected by the phone hack of the ‘Pegasus’ spy ware. The number may actually be much larger as admitted by the Facebook itself as they have been unable to pinpoint the exact number of phone hacked by this spy ware.
“The ‘Right to Privacy’ of the citizens has been an anathema to the majoritarian BJP government. Over last five years, BJP government has done everything to crush the right of citizens, including every dissenting voice. It is time to remind the nation that the present BJP government opposed the “Right to Privacy’ to be read as part of the fundamental rights,” Surjewala said.
He said the BJP government “in fact argued that no Indian should have a ‘Right to Privacy’, until the Supreme Court overruled and declared ‘Right to Privacy’ as a fundamental right. BJP government also sought to place a ‘multi-crore surveillance structure’ until its designs were stopped by the intervention of the Supreme Court.”