Pegasus snooping row: Opposition seeks probe against Modi government
Intensifying its attack on the Modi government over the Pegasus snooping controversy, the Congress called for a probe by the Joint Parliamentary Committee into the matter. As per a notice published on Lok Sabha’s website, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology is scheduled to hold a meeting on July 28 to discuss the revelations made in the Pegasus investigation.
Headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor Committee will be discussing the data security and privacy of citizens amid the ongoing controversy. It will also question the Ministry of Electronics, Ministry of Communications and Home Ministry about the allegations against the government.
Earlier, Congress had called for a Supreme Court-monitored judicial investigation into the findings that the Pegasus spyware targeted prominent opposition leaders, union ministers, journalists, and other public figures in India. AICC general secretary (organization) KC Venugopal said that the party would be holding protests outside Raj Bhavans across states on Thursday to demand a judicial investigation into the snooping scandal.
Protests in Parliament
On Tuesday, opposition leaders created an uproar in both houses of parliament, accusing PM Modi of monitoring politicians, ministers, journalists, and other public figures using military-grade spyware. Disrupting the house proceedings, Opposition lawmakers raised slogans against the Centre, demanding a probe into the allegations of phone tapping of political leaders and journalists in the country.
A number of lawmakers have also submitted adjournment notices in both houses for a discussion on the issue of national security. “We had given adjournment notices to both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha to hold a discussion on the violation of national security and fundamental rights under the Constitution over the phone tapping issue,” Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil told reporters.
Centre rejects allegations
On the contrary, the government has dismissed all allegations of snooping using the Pegasus software, maintaining that the country’s law won’t allow illegal surveillance. Responding to the Opposition’s remarks, Home Minister Amit Shah termed the investigation an attempt to “derail India’s development trajectory through their conspiracies”. Newly appointed Minister for Information Technology Ashwani Vaishnaw called it an “attempt to malign the Indian democracy.”
What is the Pegasus snooping controversy?
On Sunday, a global media consortium published an investigation, revealing that phones of two serving union ministers, three opposition leaders, heads of security organizations, senior journalists, activists from India were been tapped using the Pegasus spyware created by Israeli company NSO Group, the world’s leading hacker-for-hire company. As per media reports, the list includes former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, poll strategist Prashant Kishor and top virologist Gangandeep Kang.