‘International conspiracy to defame India’: Assam CM on Pegasus row
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday termed the Pegasus Project report as a well-designed international conspiracy to defame India’s democracy and also to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Addressing journalists on the sidelines of the ongoing assembly session, Sarma accused Amnesty International, which collaborated with several international news organizations in revealing details of alleged phone surveillance, of encouraging Left-wing terrorism in India and demanded its ban.
“At a time when India effectively controlled the second wave of Covid-19, it was expected that Parliament will take stock of the situation and make recommendations on how to control the third wave or discuss on the road ahead to revive the economy,” said Sarma.
“But on the eve of the parliament session, a news story about phone-tapping called Pegasus Project was broken. A database of phone numbers of some people was released and it was mentioned that potentially those phones could have been hacked,” he added.
The CM stated that no forensic examination was done to verify whether these phones were hacked. He asked Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, whose name also appeared in the list, to file an FIR and hand over his handset to the police for forensic examination.
Terming the release of the database as a conspiracy to weaken India, Sarma questioned the role of Amnesty International, a partner in the project.
“We all know the role of Amnesty. They are all along encouraging Left-wing terrorism in India. They are working overnight to defame India and we know about their credibility. I want to caution Amnesty against creating disturbance within the country and defame India’s democracy. I demand that their activities should be immediately banned within India,” he said.
“This is a well-designed international conspiracy to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Indian parliamentary system and is also a deliberate attempt to create dissatisfaction among the people. The people of India are with the PM and believe in him. These international conspiracies will fail and we will not allow them to succeed,” added Sarma.
Condemning the release of the database, the CM said that everyone involved in it should be examined and brought under the law because the phone numbers of those allegedly put under surveillance by using the Israeli software Pegasus were released without any evidence.
Sarma said that there is a proper system of phone tapping or telephonic surveillance in India. He accused the opposition parties of creating a disturbance in Parliament even after the Central government categorically stated that nothing is being done to affect the privacy of citizens.
“Opposition parties, mainly Congress, are creating a ruckus inside Parliament. But what is their record (on this issue)? In 2013, in a reply to an RTI query, the then UPA government had admitted that they are doing surveillance of over 5,000 phones and 500 email accounts,” he said.
“Congress government in Rajasthan has been criticised by court for infringing upon people’s privacy. Congress’s own track record is within radar and their integrity and respect for privacy are under question. Today, the same party is accusing others of doing something in which they have got a doctorate degree,” Sarma added.