New Delhi: The Chhattisgarh government has set up a three-member committee to probe if representatives of Israeli surveillance firm NSO, involved in the ongoing WhatsApp snooping row, met the state police two-three years ago, to sell the Pegasus, the same software it is reported to have used to spy on over 1,400 people across four continents as revealed by WhatsApp.
The committee, which will be headed by Principal Secretary (Home), will also look into allegations that residents of the state, too, were among those from Indian snooped on by NSO. It will also comprise the Raipur IG and Secretary, Department of Public Relations; the state Director General of Police (DGP) will assist the panel in conducting its probe.
Chief Minister Bhuesh Baghel has signed an order which states that complaints were received two-three years ago that representatives of the Israeli firm had made a presentation regarding Pegasus to the state police. The allegations, the order states, are very serious as they relate to the freedom of the people and hence require a detailed investigation. “The committee will carry out a thorough investigation and present an evidence-based report within a month,” the order adds.
The snooping scandal came to light on October 31, when the Facebook-0wned company revealed that journalists, human rights activists and dissidents were spied on by NSO using Pegasus. Chhattisgarh-based activists Bela Bhatia, Shalini Gera and Degree Prasad Chauhan are at least three activists residing in the state who are said to have been snooped on using the said software.
The central government has strongly denied it asked NSO to carry out snooping and expressed concern at reports of snooping on citizens of India. WhatsApp, meanwhile, has said that it informed the government twice about what was going on.
The said snoopings are reported to have been carried out between April 29-May 10.