Budget ahead, Pegasus returns to haunt government

Oppn accuses govt of deceiving Parliament, minister dismisses NYT as ‘Supari Media’
Representational Image. (File Photo)
Representational Image. (File Photo)

NEW DELHI: In what spell create trouble for the government during the budget session of parliament, the opposition sought clarification from the Centre over a media report that it bought the Pegasus spyware from Israel in 2017, calling it an act of treason and accusing the government of deceiving parliament. But the government rubbished the report saying a Supreme Court panel was monitoring the issue and a report was awaited.

An investigative report in The New York Times revealed that India, among other countries, has used the Israeli spyware Pegasus, which they bought in 2017. The government has refuted all allegations levelled against it of using the spyware to snoop on key politicians, judges, bureaucrats, journalists and defence personnel, among others.

But the opposition parties attacked the government following the latest revelations and are likely to corner the government in both the houses of parliament during the budget session starting on Monday. The monsoon session of the parliament last year turned out to be a complete washout over the same issue.

Calling it a “brazen, hijack of democracy,” the Congress on Saturday said it would reach out to all like-minded opposition parties to question the government on the floor of the house as it had “deceived parliament” by saying that it did not buy the spyware.

“Modi Govt bought Pegasus to spy on our primary democratic institutions, politicians and public. Govt functionaries, opposition leaders, armed forces, judiciary all were targeted by these phone tappings. This is treason. Modi Govt has committed treason,” tweeted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who was also on the list of people reportedly being snooped using the spyware.

The Left parties said the government stood exposed as it tried to hide the truth and its silence meant an acceptance of its “criminal activity.” But some ministers dismissed the NYT report. “Can you trust NYT?? They are known as Supari Media,” tweeted union minister Gen (retd) V K Singh. The BJP denied any role in snooping and said it was a “concocted hack story.”

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The New Indian Express