Friday, December 1, 2023

“I had Pegasus on my phone, Indian democracy under attack,”: Rahul Gandhi

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During a lecture at Cambridge University, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi launched a scathing attack on the Centre, alleging that an attack on the basic structure of Indian democracy had been launched, while also claiming that Israeli spyware Pegasus was being used to snoop into his phone.

Rahul claimed that intelligence officers had warned him to be “careful” while speaking on the phone because his calls were being recorded. Sam Pitroda, a Congress leader and former advisor to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, shared a YouTube link to Rahul Gandhi’s speech to MBA students at Cambridge Judge Business School on the topic of ‘Learning to Listen in the Twenty-First Century’ on Twitter.

“I myself had Pegasus on my phone. A large number of politicians had Pegasus on their phones. I have been called by intelligence officers who told me, ‘Please be careful about what you are saying on the phone because we are sort of recording the stuff. So this is the constant pressure that we feel. Cases on the Opposition. I have got a number of criminal liable cases for things that should under no circumstances be criminal liable cases. That’s what we are trying to defend,” the Congress leader said in his address.

The Supreme Court-appointed committee set up to investigate allegations of the government using Pegasus for snooping concluded in August last year that the spyware was not found in the 29 mobile phones examined, but the malware was found in five of them.

Reading the report of the committee, the bench had said, “We are concerned about the technical committee report… 29 phones were given and in five phones some malware was found but the technical committee says it cannot be said to be Pegasus.”
Rahul also claimed that the country’s Parliament, press, and judiciary were being restricted.

“Everybody knows and it’s been in the news a lot that Indian democracy is under pressure and under attack. I am an Opposition leader in India, we are navigating that (Opposition) space. The institutional framework which is required for a democracy — Parliament, free press, the judiciary, just the idea of mobilisation, moving around — all are getting constrained. So, we are facing an attack on the basic structure of Indian democracy,” the Congress MP alleged.

The Congress leader claimed that the Opposition leaders were “locked up” in jail for “just standing” in front of the Parliament House to discuss some issues, while also alleging that such incidents occurred “relatively violently.” He shared a picture of himself in the presentation slide in which he is seen being held by police personnel.

“In the Constitution, India is described as a Union of States, and that Union requires negotiation and conversation. It is that negotiation that is under attack and threat. You can see the picture which is taken in front of Parliament House. The Opposition leaders were just standing there talking about certain issues, and we were put in jail. That’s happened 3 or 4 times. It has happened relatively violently. You have also heard of the attacks on minorities and the press. You get a sense of what is going on,” Rahul claimed. 

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