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Pegasus aftermath: Ahead of her Delhi visit, Mamata constitutes commission to probe into snooping Snooping
Image Credit: UNI

Pegasus aftermath: Ahead of her Delhi visit, Mamata constitutes commission to probe into snooping

IBNS | @indiablooms | 26 Jul 2021, 02:44 pm

Kolkata/IBNS: West Bengal Monday became the Indian first state to constitute a commission to probe into snooping, in the wake of the Pegasus issue.

Announcing the decision which has been approved by the cabinet, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the commission- comprising retired Supreme Court judge Justice Madan Lokur and former Calcutta High Court Chief Justice Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya- will probe into snooping.

"We thought the central government would initiate an investigation. But they didn't do it so we have initiated the inquiry as the first state," said the Chief Minister at her office Nabanna. 

The step has assumed significance ahead of Banerjee's scheduled Delhi visit as the Trinamool Congress (TMC) along with the primary opposition party Congress are cornering the Narendra Modi government over the Pegasus report by The Wire, which claimed top politicians, bureaucrats, journalists were snooped, in the monsoon session of Parliament.

Reaction to Banerjee's step, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) IT cell head Amit Malviya tweeted, "Why are we even surprised that Mamata Banerjee has constituted a judicial commission to investigate bogus “Pegasus Project”? Her priorities have always been warped. If only she had shown such alacrity to probe post-poll violence and investigate several Covid scams in Bengal!"

Terming the Pegasus issue as "dangerous", Banerjee said on Jul 21, "The Pegasus scandal is even bigger than the Watergate scandal."

In a symbolic protest, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo has plastered the cameras of her phone to avoid any snooping.

Banerjee, who is aiming to play a national role after her thumping victory Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2021, has also urged other opposition leaders to raise the Pegasus issue in other states and protest against the BJP government at the Centre.

Names of high profile Indian political personalities like 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 had earlier reported in an explosive revelation.

NSO had 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 had 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.