Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Sunday demanded that a ‘Privilege Motion’ be moved against Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw for allegedly misleading the house on the Pegasus issue.
Chawdhury’s demand came after the New York Times report which claimed that the Indian government bought the Pegasus spy tool in 2017 as part of a deal with Israel, and the Congress on Saturday said that the illegal snooping using the spyware amounts to “treason”.
According to the report in The New York Times, the Israeli spyware Pegasus and a missile system were the central part of a roughly $2 bn deal of sophisticated weapons and intelligence gear between India and Israel in 2017.
Attacking the government, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge also said on Twitter, “Why did Modi Govt act like the enemies of India and use a warfare weapon against Indian citizens?”
Even BJP MP Subramanian Swamy said: “Modi government must rebut New York Times revelations today that it did indeed subscribe by payment from tax payers money of Rs 300 crores to spyware Pegasus sold by Israeli NSO company.
“This implies prima facie our Govt misled the Supreme Court and Parliament. Watergate?” he tweeted.
The Pegasus issue has marred the proceedings of Parliament and a majority of the Monsoon and Winter sessions was washed out because of the Opposition’s protests on this issue.
An international investigative consortium which has investigated the alleged use of Pegasus software to spy on many people said Indian ministers, politicians, activists, businessmen and journalists were targeted by the NSO Group’s phone hacking software.
The Supreme Court had set up a three-member independent expert panel to probe the alleged use of Pegasus for targeted surveillance in India, though the government had denied all allegations made against it in the matter.