BJP govt must come clean on ‘illegal surveillance’ of Indians: CPI-M

Srinagar, July 20 (KMS): In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has said that the BJP government should answer as to who authorized the “illegal surveillance” of Indians through Pegasus spyware.

The CPI-M in a statement said reports say that In India, the numbers of phones belonging to hundreds of journalists, activists, opposition politicians, government officials and business executives were on the snooping list.

Reports in Indian media have named at least 40 journalists who are under surveillance of Israeli company NSO’s Pegasus spyware.

The statement reads that two years ago, the CPI-M had raised in Parliament that this dangerous spyware was being used in India as revealed by WhatsApp. “The Modi government’s response had not categorically denied that it engaged the services of NSO but claimed that there is no unauthorised surveillance. With these revelations, it is clear that this government has engaged NSO for such surveillance against its own citizens. The Central government must come clean on what is its engagement with NSO, what are the terms and how much our public funds have been paid for this,” it says.

The statement reads that the use of a cyber spy software to hack smart phones even by the government is prohibited under Indian laws. “Under what law has the government undertaken such surveillance activities over citizens? The right to privacy is a fundamental right as laid down by the Supreme Court, but this BJP government is prevaricating on legislating the privacy law,” it says.

The CPI-M statement reads that earlier instances of hacking smart phones and computers of human rights activists have been exposed. “This is unacceptable levels of authoritarianism employing fascistic methods. The ‘snoop, plant, arrest’ formula employed by this BJP government is a violation of the fundamental rights of Indian citizens,” it adds.

The CPI-M said that the BJP government must answer and come clean on using the Pegasus cyber software for surveillance of Indian citizens in an illegal and unauthorized manner.