AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra addresses a press conference at the party office in Lucknow Friday, on 16 July 2021 | PTI
File photo of Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra | PTI
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New Delhi: The Modi government Monday came under attack from various opposition parties over the alleged spying of ministers, activists and journalists using the Pegasus spyware, including from Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

Tweeting just hours after her brother and former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi left a cryptic post on Twitter, Priyanka posted: “The #Pegasus revelations are abhorrent. If true, the Modi government seems to have launched a grave and sinister attack on the Right to Privacy — constitutionally guaranteed to Indian citizens as a Fundamental Right (sic).”

Allegations of spying on various journalists, ministers and members of the opposition using Israeli software Pegasus were published by global and Indian news agencies Sunday night.

Forensic tests conducted as part of this project, the reports say, revealed clear signs of targeting by Pegasus spyware in 37 phones, of which 10 are Indian.

However, a statement from the Ministry of Electronics and Information and Technology Sunday said the allegations regarding government surveillance had “no concrete basis or truth associated with it whatsoever”.

“In the past, similar claims were made regarding the use of Pegasus on WhatsApp by the Indian State. Those reports also had no factual basis and were categorically denied by all parties, including WhatsApp in the Indian Supreme Court”, ANI quoted the government as having said in its response.

Also read: List of Indian journalists, activists allegedly put on surveillance using Pegasus

Pegasus could be focus of monsoon session

Coming less than a day after the Pegasus list was published, the attacks coincide with the first day of the monsoon session of the Parliament. The controversy is now expected to dominate the entire session, with the Opposition demanding transparency over the issue.

Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala also tweeted Monday morning, attacking PM Modi over the scandal.

“Along with political opponents, now journalists, judges, industrialists, your own senior most ministers and even the leadership of the RSS have not been spared,” he posted in Hindi, calling the government a “jasoos sarkar (a spy government)”.

The party’s Youth Congress led a protest near the Parliament, headed by its president Srinivas B.V., who tweeted using the hashtag “#SnoopendraModi”.

Also read: Monsoon session begins on a rough note as PM fails to introduce new ministers amid Oppn din

AAP, AIMIM, CPI(M) attack government

The All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi also hit out at the government, asking it to clarify its position.

“Govt has to expressly disclose or deny only 2 things: 1 Did you use NSO spyware or not?
2 Did you target specific people named in news reports? (sic),” he tweeted.

Delhi CM and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal had not tweeted on the matter so far, the party’s Rajya Sabha members Sanjay Azad Singh and Sushil Kumar Gupta showed up in the upper house holding posters that read: “Jasoosi karna band karo! (stop spying)”

The CPI(M) also tweeted from its official handle saying the surveillance of Indian citizens now stands “exposed.”

“NSO the Israeli company supplier of the #Pegasus spyware states that its clients are only govts and their agencies. Modi Govt has to answer who is responsible for this illegal criminal snooping,” the tweet further said.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor also tweeted about the Pegasus list, and asked that if the Modi government is not behind the spying, it raises the question of which governments commissioned it.

“GOI has denied resorting to unauthorised surveillance. The question this raises is, if #Pegasus is only sold to governments, which other govts (China/Pak?) are using it to snoop on prominent Indian citizens? Shouldn’t the authorities call for an independent investigation? (sic),” he wrote.

(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)

Also read: What is Pegasus? The ‘ultimate spyware’ used for surveillance


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