At a time when the state is readying for the budget session, the telephone-tapping row is reverberating in the hills.
The ruling Congress on Tuesday demanded a time-bound probe into the tapping of phones, done by police during the previous Prem Kumar Dhumal-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regime. Congress leaders submitted a memorandum to the DC, demanding legal action against those responsible for breaching the privacy of the people.
Congress' seniormost minister Vidya Stokes described the snooping as 'dangerous'. “We all knew that BJP government snooped on Congress leaders but facts coming to fore has made us believe that how low BJP government stooped,” Stokes told mediapersons at Rajiv Bhawan, the state Congress headquarters. “Nearly 1,600 telephones were tapped, while the permission was granted only for intercepting 200 telephones,” said Stokes. “Phone tapping is not only breach of fundamental rights but a dangerous trend adopted by the previous government. What common man must be thinking about the government,” said Stokes.
Pradesh Congress committee president Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu castigated the BJP over the issue. “BJP government spied on every one - journalists, bureaucrats and political leaders. They spared none,” Sukhu said, adding, “Telephones of some BJP leaders were also put on surveillance”.
“People of the state want to know on whose behest the phones were tapped,” Sukhu said. The state Congress chief said that if need be, the Congress would stage protests at block levels to aware people of BJP's 'misdeeds'.
Congress vice-president and chairman of state co-operative bank Harsh Mahajan trained guns at former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal. “Telephone-tapping is allowed only if a person is suspected to be threat to the nation. Dhumal should explain how mass telephone tapping was done during his regime,” said Mahajan. Mahajan also demanded action against the service providers for letting phones interceptions without the prior permission of the government.
Mahajan also raked up the issue of registrations of tow organisations under the acronym 'HPCA'. “There are two associations registered under the acronym HPCA. BJP needs to explain this,” he said.
Before addressing mediapersons, the Congress leaders submitted a memorandum to deputy commissioner, demanding legal action against those involved in telephone tapping . “Congress party has decided to expose the culprits behind phone tapping. This is an act of moral turpitude of the previous BJP government headed by Prem Kumar Dhumal,” the memorandum said.
In the memorandum, the Congress charged previous BJP government with misusing government machinery to invade privacy of the people of the state. “In view of the above facts and the preliminary outputs, it is clear that the BJP government and the then CM Prem Kumar Dhumal was prima facie involved in phone tapping - an act of moral turpitude and an offence under law of the land.
This act of the BJP government is an offence against the innocent and honest people of Himachal Pradesh,” alleged the Congress.