Image: Sansad TV
Union Home Minister Amit Shah has hit back hard at Congress leader and MP Gaurav Gogoi when the latter claimed that Pegasus - the Israeli spyware was installed on his phone. Shah objected to Gogoi's statement and said that MPs should speak only authenticated statements in the House.
During a debate on the drug menace in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi asked how many drug mafias the government caught using surveillance technology. "Tell me how are you using surveillance technology? Every time you snoop on us, you put Pegasus on us, on journalists… Tell me, using Pegasus how many narcotic drugs mafias have you nabbed?” Gogoi asked Home Minister Amit Shah.
Objecting to the Congress leader's allegation, Shah said, "He has made serious allegations that Pegasus is there on his phone. He should give proof of this in the House. The House is for serious discussion. It is not for autocratic politics."
"They are saying that Pegasus was used on them. Then you give the proof. Rest the Supreme Court has already decided," Shah said referring to the apex court's decision on the Pegasus spyware matter.
Lok Sabha Speaker OM Birla intervened in the heated exchange between Shah and Gogai and said that it will enhance the dignity of the House if the members make their points with facts and proof.
In July 2021, a French non-profit Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International accessed a leaked database of 50,000 phone numbers that were allegedly targeted by Pegasus. A report by sixteen media houses claimed that of the 50,000 numbers, 300 verified Indian mobile telephone numbers were allegedly spied upon using Israeli surveillance technology firm Pegasus - which only has 36 vetted governments as its clients.
As per a 'leaked' database, numbers of those allegedly spied upon include over 40 journalists, three major opposition figures, one constitutional authority, two serving cabinet ministers, current and former heads, and officials of security organisations and businessmen. The target also includes the eight activists currently accused of the Bhima Koregaon case.
However, earlier in August, the Supreme Court bench led by then Chief Justice NV Ramana said that no conclusive evidence was found to show the presence of Pegasus spyware in the 29 phones scanned by it while examining the report of the committee formed to probe the matter.