Shiv Sena demands JPC probe SC action on Pegasus asks Who bought spyware?

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Slamming the Centre over the Pegasus row, Shiv Sena on Wednesday questioned as to how the alleged snooping could have happened without Amit Shah’s approval

Shiv Sena, Pegasus

IMAGE: Shutterstock; PTI

Slamming the Centre over the Pegasus row, Shiv Sena on Wednesday questioned as to how the alleged snooping could have happened without Home Minister Amit Shah’s approval. In its mouthpiece Saamana, Sena lists all the Opposition leaders, journalists, activists, courts and ministers who were allegedly spied upon claiming ‘All four pillars of democracy attacked’. Lashing out at the BJP, Sena reminded its old ally that the same BJP had demanded the Congress Prime Minister’s resignation when reports of Congress govt allegedly spying on its opponents had emerged.

Sena: ‘All four pillars of democracy attacked’

“Those who demanded the Home Minister and Prime Minister’s resignation time and again are today in power and are not even allowing a debate on the issue in Parliament. ‘Pegasus’ was used to spy upon select Indians and could not have happened without the Centre’s approval. The main question is Who purchased Pegasus in India to spy on dissenters and political opponents?,” lambasted Saamana. Citing that similar phone hacks had occurred in various govts leading to CM’s resignation, Sena demanded a JPC probe and urged Supreme Court to take suo moto cognizance on it.

Govt & NSO rubbish using Pegasus to spy on citizens

On Sunday night, Centre issued a rebuttal rubbishing the report that the Indian government allegedly spied on over 300 citizens, including 40 journalists via Israeli spyware Pegasus. Asserting that India was committed to free speech, Centre claimed that the questionnaire sent to it was ‘founded on pre-conceived notions’ and that Centre’s RTI response to the use of Pegasus was itself sufficient.  Calling the report a fishing expedition, the Centre reminded that similar allegations were made regarding the use of Pegasus on Whatsapp which were categorically denied by all parties including Whatsapp in the Supreme Court. Similarly, ‘Pegasus’ owner NSO Group highlighted – ‘the purpose of the list could not be conclusively determined’ and the list does not ‘identify who puts the numbers on it or why’, refuting all allegations.

What is the Pegasus row?

A report by sixteen media houses claimed that 300 verified Indian mobile telephone numbers were allegedly spied upon using Israeli surveillance technology firm Pegasus – which only has 36 vetted governments as its clients. As per a ‘leaked’ database, numbers of those allegedly spied upon include over 40 journalists, three major opposition figures, one constitutional authority, two serving cabinet ministers, current and former heads, and officials of security organizations and businessmen. The target also includes the eight activists currently accused of the Bhima Koregaon case. The report claimed that the leaked numbers mainly belong to ten countries – India, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

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