CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday attacked the BJP-led Centre over the Pegasus snooping issue, saying it was a "shocking assault" on the country's democracy, and urged the Supreme Court to take cognisance of the matter.
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 the Israeli spyware sold only to government agencies, an international media consortium had reported on Sunday.
In an official statement issued here, Chief Minister Singh said this is a "shocking assault" and "shameful attack" on India's democratic polity by the Union government and it has "compromised national security with this blatantly disgraceful act".
IT and Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has dismissed media reports on the use of the Pegasus software to snoop on Indians, saying the allegations levelled just ahead of the Monsoon session of Parliament are aimed at maligning Indian democracy.
The chief minister alleged that "with such snooping, which simply could not have been undertaken by the Israeli company without the central government's go-ahead, the NDA government had put sensitive information into the hands of various global agencies, governments and organisations with the potential to misuse it against the country".
"This is not only an attack on individual freedom but also on the security of our nation," he said.
Singh urged the Supreme Court to take suo motu cognisance of the matter and take action against the central government.
"The central government cannot get away with this. They have committed a horrendous sin, and they have to be made to pay for it," he said.
Singh said that nobody has the right to intrude into the lives of people, "leave alone enter their bedrooms, as this government has done."
Terming the developments as part of a pattern of the BJP-led government to "destroy" all democratic institutions and "stifle" the voice of the opposition, Singh lashed out at the Centre, saying this "reprehensible act" has set a new low in India's democratic history.
"No government in any part of the world has ever put the security and safety of its own institutions and people at stake in this manner before," he said.
He said that there appeared to be a "global conspiracy" to target India, of which the NDA government was clearly an appalling part.