Reacting strongly to reports that the US spy agency NSA had snooped on the BJP and Indian citizens, New Delhi said it would take up the issue with the US at the highest levels. It also summoned a top US diplomat to South Block Wednesday to register its protest.
Sources said the matter will be raised with deputy secretary of state William Burns who will be in Delhi on July 10. Assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, Nisha Biswal, will also be apprised of India’s concerns. If the responses are unsatisfactory, sources said, the matter may be taken up with secretary of state John Kerry, who will be in India on July 30-31.
Reports of NSA spying on the BJP come at a politically sensitive time when the NDA and the US are looking to put bilateral relations on the front burner.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to go to the US in September. “We have asked the US government if such intrusions had indeed been authorised and taken place. And our view is that, should this have happened, these are highly objectionable,” said external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin.
“We have sought an explanation on the information contained in these press reports and the assurance that such authorisation will not be acted upon by the US government entities as far as Indian citizens, Indian entities and government of India is concerned,” the spokesperson said.
India had taken up the issue of NSA snooping with the US in June and November last year, after revelations by NSA man Edward Snowden. The government was still “awaiting a response from America on this,” said Akbaruddin.
Document made public on Monday by The Washington Post showed that the BJP was among several political parties that were placed under surveillance by the NSA in 2010. Other parties that were snooped on included the Pakistan Peoples Party, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Lebanon’s Amal.