Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: A major political controversy has erupted between Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress, after two websites on Friday claimed that three key wings of Gujarat Police misused their powers to stalk an unmarried young woman from Bangalore in 2009 under orders from then minister of state for home Amit Shah, who did it for his "saheb".
Congress leader Digvijay Singh, who is considered to be a betenoire of Narendra Modi tweeted: “Would All Modi lovers pl react and condemn it or as a true loyalist defend Modi and Amit Shah.”
“Modi and Amit Shah use Gujarat Police to spy on an innocent girl! Didn`t Gujarat Police and then Home Minister violate the Law of the Land?”
Trashing allegations of illegal snooping against Narendra Modi, BJP today ruled out Congress demand for a rethink on its Prime Ministerial candidate and claimed that the ruling party`s "dirty tricks wing" was behind the controversy.
"There is no question of doing a rethink on our Prime Ministerial candidate even if a thousand baseless allegations of this kind are made against Narendra Modi. We had already said much earlier that we apprehend that the dirty tricks wing of the Congress will make such baseless allegations against Modi as the elections draw near," BJP president Rajnath Singh told reporters.
"Instead of making these allegations, Congress should clarify as to who is its Prime Ministerial candidate," Singh said.
He also wondered how Cobrapost got the call details when IPS officer G L Singhal, who did the illegal surveillance, had handed over the records to CBI.
"Singhal had got bail with CBI support. He was also involved in the Tulsi Prajapati encounter but still got bail," Singh said.
The BJP president pointed out that Cobrapost itself has said it cannot make any claims about the authenticity of the CD.
"The girl`s father has also given a statement that he had asked Modi, with whom he had family relations, for security for his daughter. The head of the government is responsible for ensuring the safety and security of the people. Modi was only performing his dharma," Singh said.
Congress has also demanded a CBI inquiry into allegations against the Shah. Party spokesman Meem Afzal said Shah should reveal for which saheb this work was being done and why was the saheb "so much interested" in the woman.
"The nation wants to know why Home Minister of Gujarat, who has been jailed in the Ishrat Jahan case and now is on bail, had ordered the surveillance," he said.
Shah ordered police to tail woman for `saheb`: Report
"The entire surveillance-cum-phone interception operation by the State Intelligence Bureau, the Crime Branch and the Anti-Terrorist Squad was mounted in August 2009 on oral orders, without any valid legal authorisation, and was meant only to serve the interests of someone whom the then minister of state for home, Amit Shah, addressed as `saheb,`" the report says.
Gujarat IPS officer GL Singhal, who is an accused in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case (Ishrat was killed, along with three others, by Gujarat Police in 2004) and out on bail, has handed over hundreds of recorded telephonic conversations to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) revealing the details of the tailing of the young woman.
"The illegal spying operation in which Singhal has confessed to his key role was initiated on the instructions of Shah sometime in the month of August 2009 and continued for several weeks thereafter.
"The 267 audio recordings submitted to the CBI primarily contain telephonic conversations between Shah and Singhal, who was at the time posted as SP with ATS. In at least half a dozen conversations, Shah is alluding to his saheb`s acute personal interest in the snooping of the woman," says the report by Cobrapost.
The tapes of the phone conversations "indicate that for at least over a month the Gujarat Police apparatus used its sweeping powers to rigorously monitor every private moment, every personal conversation and every daily movement of the woman," it adds.
Singhal, according to the report, has told the CBI that the surveillance was illegal and was carried out only on the oral instructions of Shah.
"The recordings reveal that the woman was tailed even as she visited shopping malls, restaurants, ice-cream parlours, gyms, cinema halls, hotels and airports. She was followed even when she visited her ailing mother in a hospital in Ahmedabad.
"When she boarded a flight out of Ahmedabad, orders were issued to put cops on the flight so that she was not out of sight even when she was flying. Strict orders were given to closely observe and profile those who met her. Shah was particularly interested in knowing the men she was meeting and whether she was alone or with some man when she checked into a hotel in Ahmedabad."
"Her phones and that of her family and friends were tapped. Every bit of information was conveyed to Shah in real time, who in turn claimed to be relaying it to his `saheb`. Listening to the conversations leaves no doubt that the people involved in the operation knew who this `saheb` was," the investigative site says.
"The disclosures in the Singhal-Shah tapes raise several disturbing questions. Who wanted the woman to be watched and why?"
The website says: "Whether Singhal`s statements and evidence stand the scrutiny of the courts or not, they nonetheless reveal a chilling modus operandi of the Modi regime. Officers like Singhal who were willing to do all the dirty work would take instructions from Shah who would freely use Modi`s name and mandate them to indulge in all kinds of criminal activities.
"The question arises was all this happening without Modi`s knowledge?... How many more people-political opponents, human rights activists, journalists, witnesses, police officers-have been snooped around?... Why did Singhal record his conversations with Shah for just over a month and not beyond that? How the information procured about her was put to use?"
"This is a closet that only opens from the inside. Singhal has cranked it open, but just a bit. Perhaps, the full scale of illegal snooping that may have gone on for years in Gujarat will never be fully known," it says.