The NYT report hinted that the spyware Pegasus and a missile system were the “centerpieces” of a roughly $2-billion deal for weapons and intelligence gear between India and Israel in 2017. The report also referred to PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel in July 2017 – to become the first Indian prime minister to visit the country.
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter and accused the Modi government of “treason.” He alleged it purchased Pegasus to spy on the primary “institutions of our democracy, leaders and the public”.
Modi Govt bought Pegasus to spy on our primary democratic institutions, politicians and public. Govt functionaries,… https://t.co/Ad9rW99D4z
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) 1643439115000
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the party now stands vindicated in its stand that the Modi government is “deployer and executor of illegal and unconstitutional spying and snooping racket through Israeli surveillance spyware Pegasus.”
Shocking new expose in an international publication has now confirmed what we have long asserted“Modi Govt the de… https://t.co/raN85nopbx
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) 1643441508000
Last year, a row erupted over Israeli spyware Pegasus allegedly being used for targeted surveillance in India.
An international investigative consortium had claimed last year that many people including Indian ministers, politicians, activists, businessmen and journalists were potentially targeted by the NSO Group’s phone hacking software.
The government, however, dismissed allegations of any kind of surveillance on its part on specific people, saying it “has no concrete basis or truth associated with it whatsoever”.
In October last year, the Supreme Court set up a 3-member independent expert panel to probe the alleged use of Israeli spyware Pegasus for targeted surveillance in India, observing the state cannot get a “free pass” every time the spectre of national security is raised and that its mere invocation cannot render the judiciary a “mute spectator” and be the bugbear it shies away from.
There was no immediate response from the government when approached by news agencies.
Other leaders from the opposition have also been vocal against the governemnt following the NYT report.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said on Twitter, “Why did Modi Govt act like the enemies of India and use a warfare weapon against Indian citizens?”
Rajya Sabha MP and senior Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil alleged that the “revelations” in the report imply that the government “misled” the Supreme Court and Parliament on the issue.
In a tweet, Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi alleged the spyware was used not for defence purposes but to snoop on opposition and journalists.
“If there is BJP, it is possible. They have made the country into a Bigg Boss show,” she said in a tweet in Hindi.
BJP MP Subramanian Swamy alleged the government has misled the Supreme Court on the Pegasus issue.
Modi government must rebut New York Times revelations today that It did indeed subscribe by payment from tax payers… https://t.co/gBWw1J1jfV
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) 1643424463000
The Supreme Court had set up a three-member independent expert panel to probe the alleged use of Pegasus for targeted surveillance in India.
The government had denied all allegations made against it in the matter.
(With inputs from PTI)