‘Over 1,000 phones tapped in previous BJP govt’
Shimla: A committee has found over 1,000 telephones of politicians, bureaucrats and journalists were tapped during previous Prem Kumar Dhumal-led BJP government in Himachal Pradesh, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has said.
"We have received the final report of three-member expert committee for forensic experts of state Forensic Laboratory and a casual look on the report revealed that over 1,000 phones were tapped," Singh told reporters here.
"But the details and the contents would be known after thoroughly studying the report in detail," he said.
The chief minister alleged that the tapping could not have taken place without the knowledge of the then chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, who was also the Home minister.
"Dhumal was Home minister. How he can deny that phone tapping was not in his knowledge? He must own the moral responsibility if it was done. He cannot absolve himself of this conspiracy," Singh said.
The chief minister said stern action would taken against those found to be involved in the matter.
"Phone tapping is illegal and infringement of democratic rights of people, especially right to privacy and all those involved in this act would be severely dealt with," he said.
"Nobody will be spared, no matter how high (he/she) may be," he said.
Official sources said laboratory analysed the data retrieved from hard disks of computers seized from the CID headquarters on December 25, the day the incumbent chief minister assumed charge.
Most of the conversations were of Congress leaders while they were in the opposition, and conversations of some top government functionaries, BJP dissidents and journalists also figured.
"What is clear is from this report is that the BJP government was indulging in conspiracy to organise surveillance on senior opposition leaders. I was on the top of the list. Even there were instances of bugging in my offices during my Chandigarh visits (in Himachal Bhawan)", he alleged.
Singh said the home department never gives permission to tap such voluminous calls.
Denying any knowledge or involvement in phone tapping during his chief ministership from December 2007 to December 2012, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said, "It is the home secretary who decides that whose phone is to be put on observation and not the chief minister".