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'Disruptors and obstructers can’t derail India's development’: Amit Shah on Pegasus scandal

Reports of snooping are aimed at humiliating India, says the home minister

Home Minister Amit Shah | PTI Home Minister Amit Shah | PTI

Under fire over media reports about the use of Pegasus spyware for surveillance of politicians and other personalities, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday asserted that such reports are aimed at humiliating India.

“Disruptors and obstructers will not be able to derail India's development trajectory through their conspiracies,” Shah said.

He also hit out at the opposition for jumping on to the Pegasus bandwagon and asked them to understand the chronology of the scandal.

"People have often associated this phrase with me in lighter vein but today I want to seriously say - the timing of the selective leaks, the disruptions...Aap Chronology Samajhiye!" the home minister said.

Shah's reaction came after the Congress demanded his sacking and a probe into the “role of Prime Minister” Narendra Modi in the matter.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala held Shah responsible for the Pegasus spying issue and said his party’s first demand is his dismissal from the post he occupies.

“The Modi government is the deployer and executor of this illegal and unconstitutional snooping and spying racket through Israeli surveillance software Pegasus,” he said.

On Monday, reports claimed that the phone numbers of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnav and political strategist Prashant Kishore were listed as potential targets for hacking through Israeli spyware Pegasus. The number of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s MP nephew Abhishek Banerjee was also on the list.

Reports said at least two numbers being used by Gandhi were listed as potential targets. The list also allegedly includes numbers of his five friends and acquaintances, they said.

An international media consortium on Sunday reported that more than 300 verified mobile phone numbers, including of two serving ministers, over 40 journalists, three opposition leaders and one sitting judge besides scores of business persons and activists in India could have been targeted for hacking through the Israeli spyware sold only to government agencies.

The government, however, has dismissed allegations of any kind of surveillance on its part on specific people, saying it "has no concrete basis or truth associated with it whatsoever".

Reacting to the media reports, Minister Ashwini Vaishnav on Monday said such claims are an attempt to malign Indian democracy. “Those reports had no factual basis and were denied by all parties. Press reports of 18 July 2021 also appear to be an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions,” he said.

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