Offered to Bengal for ₹25 crore, didn’t buy it: Mamata on Pegasus spying software | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Offered to Bengal for 25 crore, didn’t buy it: Mamata on Pegasus spying software

Mar 18, 2022 12:42 AM IST

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) chairperson did not specify which other states were approached and who came with the offer.

The Israeli Pegasus software used for snooping on mobile phones was offered to the West Bengal government for 25 crore around five years ago, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said that the Israeli Pegasus software used for snooping on mobile phones was offered to the Bengal government for <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>25 crore around five years ago. (HT PHOTO.)
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said that the Israeli Pegasus software used for snooping on mobile phones was offered to the Bengal government for 25 crore around five years ago. (HT PHOTO.)

“They came to our police (department) four or five years ago and offered to sell Pegasus for 25 crore. They went to many others. We didn’t buy it. It is okay as long as it is being used for security reasons and against anti-national elements. It is unfortunate that it is being used for political purposes, to snoop on officers and judges,” Banerjee said during a press conference at the state secretariat on Thursday afternoon.

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The Trinamool Congress (TMC) chairperson did not specify which other states were approached and who came with the offer.

The Pegasus software is made by NSO Group Technologies located at Herzliya, Israel. At the height of the controversy over alleged snooping on Indian citizens the company said last year that it sells the software only to governments.

The matter became a raging issue when it was alleged in media reports in July last year that the Bengal chief minister’s nephew and TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee and the party’s election strategist Prashant Kishor were under surveillance alongside a host of leaders, bureaucrats and judges across the nation.

The Centre denied the allegation.

In August 2021, Bengal became the first state to order a probe

The state cabinet approved the appointment of a commission of inquiry comprising former Supreme Court judge, Justice (retd) MB Lokur and retired chief justice of the Calcutta high court, Justice (retd) Jyotirmay Bhattacharya. The state exercised its power conferred by section 3 of the Commission of Enquiry Act, 1952.

Announcing the probe, Mamata Banerjee said Pegasus was used by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for illegal hacking, surveillance and recording of data and calls.

In October last year, the Supreme Court appointed a three-member panel of cyber experts to probe the alleged use of the Israeli software for surveillance on Indian citizens.

The Bengal’s government’s inquiry commission was not affected by the Supreme Court order, justice (retired) Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya told the media.

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