New Delhi: Congress on Sunday slammed the Narendra Modi government over the WhatsApp snooping row, calling the ruling BJP ‘deployer and executor of an illegal racket,’ in its official statement and also alleging that three opposition leaders-Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and NCP leader Praful Patel were among those spied on.
Addressing a press conference, Randeep Singh Surjewala, the Congress’ communication in-charge, said, “When WhatsApp sent messages to all those whose phones were hacked, one such message was also received by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.”
WhatsApp has been sending messages to those whose phone were hacked, informing them about the hack. While Priyanka Gandhi has already slammed the government over the issue, Mamata Banerjee, too, has said that she knows that the government has been watching activities of politicians, media, judges and other important personalities.
Praful Patel, meanwhile, has been accused of having links with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s aide Iqbal Mirchi, a charge he has denied.
Surjewala also released the Congress’ official statement on his Twitter account. Titled ‘Ab ki baar jasoos sarkar’ (This time, it’s a spying government), the statement said, “Layers of BJP government’s conspiracy and collusion in the illegal and unconstitutional hacking of cell phones through surveillance software ‘Pegasus’ are unraveling every day. BJP government is the deployer and executor of this illegal and unconstitutional snooping and spying racket.”
The Modi government has been in the eye of a storm since October 30, when WhatsApp first confirmed that 1,400 people from four continents, including human rights activists, journalists etc. from India, were spied upon by Israeli surveillance firm NSO through a software called Pegasus.
Though the government has denied it ordered snooping on those spied upon, WhatsApp has said that it informed the government twice about 121 Indian users being targeted by the software.
In response to the Congress’ verbal attacks, the BJP has not held back, asking the grand old party to inform the nation who spied on former President Pranab Mukherjee when he was a minister in the UPA government in 2011 as well as former Army Chief VK Singh, who is currently a union minister.