Accusing the Narendra Modi government of “treason” and compromising on national security over the Pegasus spyware issue, the main Opposition Congress on Monday demanded the sacking of Home Minister Amit Shah and a probe into the “role of Prime Minister” Narendra Modi in the matter.
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala held Shah responsible for the Pegasus spying issue and said Congress party’s first demand is his dismissal from the post he occupies.
The Congress will take all Opposition parties on-board over the issue and decided whether to ask for a judicial or parliamentary probes in the matter, he told reporters.
Accusing the Modi government of murdering the Constitution, law and dismantling national security, Surjewala said it is guilty of “treason”.
“The Modi government is the deployer and executor of this illegal and unconstitutional snooping and spying racket through Israeli surveillance software Pegasus,” he said.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said Shah should immediately resign as he “does not deserve” to occupy the position he is holding.
“Modiji promotes digital India, but what we are seeing is Surveillance India,” Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said.
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, was twice selected as a potential surveillance target in leaked phone number data, making him one of dozens of Indian politicians, journalists, activists and government critics whose numbers were identified as possible targets for the Israeli company’s government clients, according to an investigation into a massive data leak.
The global collaborative investigative project has revealed that Pegasus spyware targeted over 300 mobile phone numbers in India including that of two serving Ministers in the Narendra Modi government, three Opposition leaders, one constitutional authority, 40 journalists, rights activists, lawyers and business persons.
The Pegasus Project is a ground-breaking collaboration by more than 80 journalists from 17 media organisations in 10 countries including Indian website The Wire coordinated by Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based media non-profit, with the technical support of Amnesty International, who conducted cutting- edge forensic tests on mobile phones to identify traces of the spyware.
The Congress leaders also asked six questions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The questions are:
1. Is spying on Security Forces, Judiciary, Cabinet Ministers, Opposition Leaders, Journalists & activists through a foreign entity’s spyware not ‘treason’ & inexcusable breach of National Security?
2.Why was Modi Government spying on its citizens and political leaders before and in the run-up to 2019 General Elections to Parliament of India as also thereafter?
3.Who in Government of India purchased and deployed the illegal spyware – ‘Pegasus’ from Israeli company NSO? Who – the PM or HM – authorized the purchase of illegal spyware ‘Pegasus’? How many hundred or thousand crores were spent?
4.If Government was aware of the illegal purchase and deployment of the ‘Pegasus’ spyware since April-May, 2019; why did it chose to stay mum?
5.Should the Home Minister, Shri Amit Shah, incharge of Internal Security of the country, not be sacked forthwith?
6.Does this not warrant a full investigation of the role of Prime Minister, Home Minister and others involved?