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Revelations About Surveillance on Activists, Journalists, and Opposition Leaders Pose a Serious Threat to Democracy: NCHRO

The recent revelations about the use of an Israeli made spyware to snoop  on political leaders, heads of state, journalists, media houses, activists etc by the governments and intelligence agencies  pose a serious threat to human rights and democracy and its effects are dangerous and far-reaching, said  the National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations -NCHRO.

It is reported that Paris -based non-profit media institute, Forbidden Stories, and Amnesty International first had access to this leaked list which they shared with The Wire and 15 other news organisations worldwide as part of a lengthy collaborative investigation called the Pegasus Project. It is also turned out that the Indian government had allegedly been using an Israeli spyware extensively for long time now.

What the leakage does establish is that the government has illegally used the Pegasus spyware   not only to harass people but also to jail them on cooked up charges as in Bhima-Koregaon case.

However, the possible targets for surveillance have not been involved in any illegal activities. The Indian government often justifies the invasion of privacy by citing the buzzword “terrorism”. But in the case of the people whose phone numbers were tapped, there is no such thing involved. As of now, the regime has avoided answering the question and have pointed fingers at the international media, the opposition, and the organisations and media outlets involved in the expose.

The Supreme Court in 2019 had marked the right to privacy as a fundamental right. The right to privacy is a crucial right that is indispensable to people’s lives. Keeping that in mind, the Indian government’s surveillance attempts are a threat to people’s freedom. The response of the central government only suggests that its agencies are involved in spying on Indian citizens. With using their same old tactic of labelling anyone questioning them as “anti-national”, they are only trying to escape responsibility and accountability once again, just as they have habitually done for the past seven years.

NCHRO strongly condemns the response of the Indian government to the revelations, and demands an independent bipartisan inquiry into the matter. The right to privacy must not be taken lightly, and any attempt at violating it must be combated collectively.

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