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Congress demands probe into Pegasus spyware issue

The Congress on Monday demanded an independent probe into the issue involving alleged phone tapping of prominent personalities including journalists in India using Israeli Pegasus spyware.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took a swipe at the prime minister on the matter using the hashtag “Pegasus”.

“We know what he’s been reading- everything on your phone”, he said on Twitter.

“I’m wondering what you guys are reading these days,” Gandhi had said two days ago in a tweet.

An international media consortium reported on Sunday that more than 300 verified mobile phone numbers, including of two serving ministers, over 40 journalists, three opposition leaders and one sitting judge besides scores of business persons and activists in India could have been targeted for hacking through an Israeli spyware sold only to government agencies.

The government has, however, dismissed allegations of any kind of surveillance on its part on specific people, saying it “has no concrete basis or truth associated with it whatsoever”.

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor demanded an independent judicial or Parliamentary committee probe into the issue after the government denied having any involvement in the alleged phone tapping using Pegasus spyware.

He said the Pegasus issue is a very serious one as it concerns national security.

Since the government has said that it has not done any snooping, this should be probed, he said.

“I feel that there should be a thorough independent judicial inquiry or a joint parliamentary committee. We cannot just brush it under the carpet,” he told reporters.

“GoI has denied resorting to unauthorised surveillance. The question this raises is, if #Pegasus is only sold to governments, which other govts (China/Pak?) are using it to snoop on prominent Indian citizens? Shouldn’t the authorities call for an independent investigation,” Tharoor also said on Twitter.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also demanded a thorough probe

“Saheb, the country is asking how much are you spending spying on phones of others while working for 18 hours everyday,” he said.

“Tapping-jeevi ji, along with political opponents, you did not even spare journalists, judges, industrialists, your own ministers and even RSS leadership,” he said.

“Rightly said – this time, spying government,” he said in another tweet in Hindi.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said the Pegasus issue is an affront to democracy.

“The Pegasus revelations are abhorrent. If true, the Modi government seems to have launched a grave and sinister attack on the Right to Privacy – constitutionally guaranteed to Indian citizens as a Fundamental Right,” she said on Twitter.

“This is an affront to democracy and has ominous implications for our freedoms,” Vadra added.

The Congress and some other parties also raised the matter in Parliament.

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