Union Minister Pralhad Joshi Calls Pegasus Controversy a ‘Non-Issue’
Rahul Gandhi had earlier said, "They used it against the Supreme Court...The only word for this is treason."
As the Opposition's protest over the alleged use of Pegasus spyware for targeted surveillance continues to gain momentum, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi on Friday, 30 July, said that it was a “non-issue” and that the government was ready for discussions on "people-related matters".
This came on a day that the Supreme Court agreed to hear the plea of veteran journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar next week. The plea seeks a probe by a retired or a sitting Supreme Court judge into the alleged snooping.
The investigative report that triggered global outrage led to daily protests by the Opposition parties in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha since the beginning of the Monsoon session on 19 July.
Opposition’s Behaviour ‘Unfortunate’: Pralhad Joshi
On Friday as well, Lok Sabha proceedings were adjourned due to protests. Meanwhile, Joshi urged the protesting members to allow the House to function while speaking during the Question Hour, news agency PTI reported.
Joshi described the Opposition's behaviour as "unfortunate" and in the Lower House claimed that the spyware issue was "not serious".
He was further quoted as saying, "There are so many issues directly related to the people of India... Government is ready for discussions on them."
Reacting to the Lower House passing bills without much discussion, Joshi asserted, "We don't want to pass bills without discussions”, PTI reported.
Opposition members raised slogans and displayed placards during Question Hour, as they continued the protests over the Pegasus spyware controversy, among other issues.
Reports by 16 media organisations across the world on 18 July revealed that Israel-made spyware Pegasus was believed to have been used to snoop on at least 300 Indian phone numbers, including those of over 40 senior journalists, Opposition leaders, government officials, and rights activists.
The leaked list of names was provided to The Wire and 15 other international news organisations by France-based media non-profit, Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International, as part of a collaborative investigation called the 'Pegasus Project'.
Multiple reports, published since 18 July, have revealed the names of Rahul Gandhi, Prashant Kishor, Ashok Lavasa, and Union ministers Prahlad Patel and Ashwini Vaishnaw, among those on the leaked list.
The Indian government, on its part, has denied any role in the snooping operations, slamming the reports.
Reacting to the controversy, Rahul Gandhi had earlier said, "They used it (Pegasus) politically; they used it in Karnataka; they used it to scuttle probes; they used it against the Supreme Court and all institutions of this country. The only word for this is treason. There is no other word for this."
(WIth inputs from PTI)
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