Congress demands independent probe into Pegasus project report, seeks Amit Shah's resignation

Mallikarjun Kharge | Photo: PTI

New Delhi: Congress party on Monday demanded an independent probe into the alleged illegal surveillance of journalists using Pegasus spyware and sought the resignation of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

While addressing the press conference, Congress leader and LoP in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge alleged, "The Prime Minister and Home Minister are involved in snooping on Opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi, journalists and even Union ministers. Before a probe, Amit Shah sahab should resign and an inquiry should be conducted against Modi sahab. If you have faith in democracy and work according to the constitution, then you are fit to be on that post."

Taking a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, "PM Modi says he promotes Digital India but today we are seeing it is surveillance India. NSO is saying that its products are used exclusively by the government to fight crime and terror. But they are using Pegasus against people who speak against the Prime Minister."

Further Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged that the government was listening to 'bedroom conversations' and said that this is treason.

"The Modi-government can listen to your conversation through Pegasus spyware illegally. What conversation you are having when you are in the bedroom or in the bathroom can be listened to by the Central government. This is treason and against national security," Surjewala said.

The names of over 40 Indian journalists appeared on the leaked list of potential targets for surveillance by an unidentified agency using Pegasus spyware, according to a report published in The Wire on Sunday.

According to the report, the journalists who were targeted work for some news organisations in the country including Hindustan Times, The Hindu, India Today, Indian Express and Network18. Many of them cover matters related to Defence, Home Ministry, Election Commission and Kashmir among others.

However, Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Monday said there is 'no substance' in the media report regarding the use of Pegasus on WhatsApp, adding that the report was an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions.

Speaking in Lok Sabha, Vaishnaw said that it can't be a coincidence that the report appeared a day before the commencement of the monsoon session of Parliament.

The Minister said that any form of illegal surveillance isn't possible with "checks and balances in our laws and robust institutions."

"In India, there's a well-established procedure through which lawful interception of electronic communication is carried out for purpose of national security. Requests for lawful interceptions of electronic communication are made as per relevant rules under provisions of Sec 5(2) of Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and Sec 69 of Information Technology Act 2000. Each case of interception is approved by the competent authority," he assured. (ANI)

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