Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah of using Pegasus spyware against “India, its institutions and its democracy”, and said that the only word for this is “treason”.
He added every phone that he uses is tapped and demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe and Shah’s resignation.
“Pegasus is classified by the Israeli state as a weapon and that weapon is supposed to be used against terrorists. The prime minister and the home minister have used this weapon against the Indian state and our institutions. They have used it politically…”
“The home minister should resign and a judicial inquiry by the Supreme Court should be conducted against Narendra Modi as no one else can authorise the use of Pegasus… only the prime minister and home minister can authorise its use.” He described himself as an “open book” and said he is not intimidated. Gandhi added he and his friends have been informed by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) that tapping is being done.
“I get phone calls from IB people who tap my phone. They call me up and say please be aware we are tapping your phone.” He added his security people have to report to their seniors everything he says. “So I am under no pretension that my phone is not tapped,” Gandhi said his phone has been tapped three-four times.
He called the alleged use of the spyware an “attack on the voice of the people”. Gandhi added it is not just a matter of his privacy. “It (his phone) is not a potential target; my phone is tapped. It is clearly tapped. So, it is not a potential target.” He said only the corrupt fear Modi. “But if you are not corrupt, you will not fear Modi… you tend to laugh.”
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore dared Gandhi to submit his phone for investigation if he believes it was tapped and insisted that no one’s phone has been tapped illegally.
Rathore said the Congress is determined to stall Parliament for one reason or another after being rejected twice by people in the Lok Sabha polls of 2014 and 2019.
The government has neither confirmed nor denied whether it has purchased the spyware. NSO Group has on multiple occasions said that it offers services only to vetted government clients. The company has disputed the leaked list of numbers as those potentially targeted by its clients.
Congress’s Pawan Khera said, “The defence being put up by the Government and the BJP is worse than the silence of the PM.’’ Reiterating their demand for a judicial inquiry, Khera pointed out that other countries had ordered one as revelations from the consortium of journalists surfaced.
“The French cabinet has met to discuss the investigation on the Pegasus-Gate. As we speak, the Mexican Government has already launched an investigation. As we speak, the Israeli Government has already ordered an enquiry and is looking at reviewing the export rules for NSO’s Pegasus. If not anything, this adds to the credibility of the expose,’’ he said.
The leaked database was first obtained by France-based non-profit Forbidden Stories, which shared the information with the reporting partners. The devices associated with 67 of the numbers were analysed by Amnesty International and of these, 37 had signs of being hacked by Pegasus. Of the 37, 10 were in India.
To be sure, as the methodology of the investigation explains, the presence of a number does not indicate the individual’s phone was hacked — just that it was of interest.