All India Congress Committee, AICC Manipur In-charge Bhakta Charan Das has demanded white paper and judicial inquiry involving the Supreme Court of India into the recent issues of targets by clients of the NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. Speaking to media at Congress Bhavan in Imphal today, he criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi led BJP Government of taking no action against the Pegasus scandal even when the personnel information of every Indians are at stake. Stating that the spyware can hack into one's smartphones without the owner's knowledge and can even secretly record onsite audios and videos, Bhakta Charan Das said that the government's indifference is violation of freedom of speech and expression of each and every citizen in the country and asked the credibility of government's "digital India" vision.
It maybe mentioned that "The Wire" in collaboration with 16 other media organisations including "The Guardian" and "The Washington Post"– has been revealing the names of people who were either persons of interest or forensically identified as having been targeted by clients of the NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. Two serving union ministers, three opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi, one constitutional authority, current and former heads of security organisations, administrators, and 40 senior Indian journalists and activists' phones including one from Manipur have been allegedly bugged and put under surveillance using Israeli spy software called Pegasus. The Israeli company which has developed the advanced spyware said, it has only sold information to “vetted governments” to counter terrorism and other major crimes. Both the software's owner and the Indian government have both categorically denied the allegations but the political fallout of the scandal has been escalating.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday claimed that the snooping on Supreme Court judges, journalists and political leaders among others using the Pegasus spyware, news of which broke earlier this week, was 'worse than the Watergate scandal' which broke in the US during the Nixon presidency. The Lok Sabha proceedings were repeatedly adjourned on Thursday amid sloganeering by Opposition members over various issues, including Pegasus scandal and the three recent farm laws. In the Rajya Sabha, Electronics and Information Technology Minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw, was forced to cut short his statement on Pegasus snooping controversy amid uproar by the opposition members.