The opposition parties have unitedly targeted the Modi government accusing it of snooping on the phones of journalists, MPs and other prominent personalities.
The Ministry of Defence, in a written response to a question in the Rajya Sabha, has said that it has not made any transaction with Israel’s NSO group which owns the Pegasus spyware. “Ministry of Defence has not had any transaction with NSO Group Technologies,” Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt said. The question was asked by CPM MP Dr V Sivadasan. V Sivadasan had asked whether the government has made any transaction with the NSO Group Technologies and sought details in case there was a transaction. Notably, the NSO group sells the Pegasus military-grade spyware only to sovereign governments.
The Defence ministry’s statement comes amid a huge political storm which has almost washed out the Monsoon Session of Parliament with opposition members disrupting the proceedings in both houses demanding a discussion on the issue.
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The opposition parties have unitedly targeted the Modi government accusing it of snooping on the phones of journalists, MPs and other prominent personalities. A report related to the Pegasus snoopgate was published just a day before the commencement of the monsoon session on July 19.
Amid the ruckus by the opposition MPs, IT and Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnawhad had dismissed the media reports and had said that no illegal surveillance has been conducted. He had said the allegations levelled just ahead of the Monsoon session of Parliament were aimed at maligning Indian democracy.
In a suo motu statement in Lok Sabha, Vaishnaw had said that with several checks and balances being in place, “any sort of illegal surveillance” by unauthorised persons is not possible in India.
The snooping issue has already been taken up at the Supreme Court with several petitions urging the apex court to order an independent investigation into the matter.
The opposition MPs have also been demanding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend Parliament and hear the opposition’s demand.