Accusing the government of ‘treason’, the opposition parties on Monday demanded the resignation of Union Home Minister Amit Shah and a probe into the ‘role of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’ in the Pegasus spying row, inviting a sharp rejoinder from the BJP which accused them of orchestrating conspiracies against the government.
The Congress mounted an offensive charging the government with compromising on national security.
The party said it would take on board all opposition parties over the issue and decide whether to ask for a judicial or parliamentary probe into the matter.
The Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Malikarjun Kharge, said Shah should immediately resign as he does not deserve to occupy the position he is holding.
The government has not only attacked freedom of speech, but also the fundamental rights of people, he alleged. Congress spokesperson R S Surjewala said, “The person responsible for deployment of this illegal spyware Pegasus is no less than the home minister, who must be sacked.”
The CPM said it had raised in Parliament two years ago how this dangerous spyware was being used in India, as revealed by WhatsApp.
“With these revelations, it is clear that this government has engaged NSO for such surveillance against its own citizens. The central government must come clean on what is its engagement with NSO (the Israeli tech firm that created the spyware), what are the terms and how much our public funds have been paid for this,” the party said in a statement.
The Trinamool Congress said it will raise the issue in Parliament.
“It is a serious issue and the minister in his statement in the House does not deny that the government was using the software. We will raise this issue in Parliament,” said TMC Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’ Brien.
Party MP Sukhendu Sekhar Ray has given a notice in the Rajya Sabha under Rule 267 to discuss the Pegasus 'snooping' issue, the party said on Monday.
The opposition parties met on Tuesday before the commencement of the House. They had decided to take up price hikes of fuel, farms, law, and COVID 19 and vaccination issues in both houses, but focus has shifted to Pegasus snooping case.
The Congress and other opposition parties demanded an independent and fair investigation into the Pegasus espionage issue and demanded a Joint Parliament Committee (JPC).
The apparent use of the Pegasus software to spy on journalists, human rights defenders, politicians and others in a variety of countries is "extremely alarming" and the States concerned should take steps to protect against such "invasions" of privacy, the UN high commissioner for human rights said on Monday.
In a statement, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said governments should immediately "cease their own use of surveillance technologies" in ways that violate human rights, and should take concrete actions to protect against such "invasions" of privacy by regulating the distribution, use and export of surveillance technology created by others.”
Media reports on Sunday claimed that spyware Pegasus was used to conduct surveillance on about 300 Indians, including ministers, political leaders, government officials, and journalists.