Pegasus row: Oppositions to hold strategy meet in Parliament tomorrow
New Delhi/IBNS: In a strategy to corner the Narendra Modi Government in Parliament during the ongoing Monsoon Session over the Pegasus row, the opposition parties will hold a strategy meeting in the House at 10 am on Tuesday to discuss the alleged illegal snooping through the Israeli spyware, media reports said.
Trinamool Congress MP Sukhendu Sekhar Ray has given a 267 notice, seeking suspension of Rules of business in the Rajya Sabha, to be able to have a discussion on Pegasus.
The Upper House of the Parliament was scheduled to discuss 'COVID management' on Tuesday but a fresh agenda on Monday evening showed that new Union IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw will make a statement regarding "compromise of phone data of some persons as reported in the media" after 2 pm.
This comes after a collaborative investigation report by The Wire, The Washington Post and The Guardian among others which claimed that more than 1,000 phone numbers in India appeared between 2017 and 2019 on the snooping list of the Pegasus, a spying tool that allows customers to infiltrate mobile phones and monitor messages, camera feeds and microphones.
Names of high profile political personalities like Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, former poll strategist Prashant Kishor, new IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, Union Minister Prahlad Patel and TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee among others have featured in the potential target list of the Israeli spyware, The Wire has reported in an explosive revelation.
Besides key politicians, over 40 Indian journalists and a constitutional authority were also found on the database of NSO as connected to people of interest since 2016, The Wire has reported.
Earlier in the day, Ashwini Vaishnaw countered media reports on the Pegasus issue and said 'illegal surveillance' is not possible in India.
Speaking in the Lok Sabha, he said: "I’m sure my colleagues in the opposition who have been in Government for years would be well aware of these protocols. Since they have governed the country, they would also be aware that any form of illegal surveillance is not possible with the checks and balances in our laws and our robust institutions."
Former Union IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has also defended the government and questioned why only India is being "targeted" for the use of the spyware when 45 nations are using it.
"The NSO, which is the manufacturer of Pegasus, has clearly said that its clients are mostly Western nations. So why is India being targetted in this matter? What is the story behind this? What is the twist in the tale?" he added.
The Israeli company, which sells Pegasus, has denied the snooping allegations, claiming that it only offers its spyware to "vetted governments" and said it was "considering a defamation lawsuit".
However, forensic tests have confirmed that some of them were successfully snooped upon by an unidentified agency using Pegasus spyware, The Wire reported.
The data was accessed by Paris-based nonprofit journalism organisation Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International and then shared with the Guardian, The Wire and other media outlets as part of the Pegasus project.
Most of the numbers identified in the list were geographically concentrated in 10 country clusters: India, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, The Wire reported.