NEW DELHI: Targeting the Narendra Modi government over the Pegasus snooping scandal, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have ''hit the soul of democracy'' by using the Israeli spyware against India.
“Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have hit the soul of democracy by using Pegasus against India, its institutions,’’ Rahul Gandhi said.
Addressing the media outside the Parliament, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, along with several other Opposition parties, slammed the Center over reports of alleged snooping using the Pegasus spyware.
The Gandhi scion said that the Parliament was not being disrupted by the Opposition as is being claimed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “We are not disturbing Parliament, we are only fulfilling our responsibility,’’ Rahul Gandhi said while countering the government charges.
For us, Pegasus is a matter related to nationalism & treason. This weapon has been used against democracy. For me, it's not a matter of privacy. I see it as an anti-national act. Narendra Modi & Amit Shah Ji have attacked soul of India's democracy: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi pic.twitter.com/UEwm6DuvDY
— ANI (@ANI) July 28, 2021
In the address, which came after a meeting between 14 Opposition parties over Parliament proceedings earlier in the day, Gandhi asked the Centre to clarify whether it uses Pegasus in any capacity.
The Congress leader said that “Pegasus row for us is an issue of nationalism, treason; this is not a matter of privacy. It is anti-national work.” He alleged that the voice of the opposition is being suppressed in Parliament. “We are only asking if govt bought Pegasus, snooped upon Indians,’’ he asked.
We want to ask just one question. Has the Govt of India bought Pegasus? Yes or No. Did the Govt use Pegasus weapon against its own people? We have been told clearly by the Govt that no discussion will take place on Pegasus in the House: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi pic.twitter.com/ISqeP4dF68
— ANI (@ANI) July 28, 2021
"We want to know from Narendra Modi and Amit Shah - why you used this weapon (Pegasus spyware) against India's democratic institutions?'' the Congress leader sought to know.
Meanwhile, showcasing the Opposition unity over the issue, Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said, "The entire Opposition is and will remain united on the issues of national security and farm laws.''
Parliamentary panel on Information Technology has summoned the government officials on allegations relating to suspected phone tapping of politicians, journalists and others using Pegasus spyware. The committee chairman and senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor had on Tuesday asserted that it is the "most important issue" for many members.
The 32-member Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, for which the listed agenda is ''Citizens' data security and privacy'', according to a notification issued by Lok Sabha Secretariat.
The panel, which has the maximum members from the ruling BJP, has summoned officials from the Ministry of Electronics, Information and Technology and the Ministry of Home Affairs.
An international media consortium has reported that over 300 verified Indian mobile phone numbers were on a list of potential targets for surveillance using Israeli firm NSO's Pegasus spyware.
Opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi, two union ministers - Prahlad Singh Patel and Railways and IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, businessman Anil Ambani, a former CBI chief, and at least 40 journalists are on the list on the leaked database of NSO.
It is, however, not established that all the phones were hacked.