The Union information and technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was seen taking refuge in circumlocution when he was asked in Parliament on Thursday if the BJP government had bought the Israeli spyware Pegasus that was allegedly used by the government to intercept phones of about 100 activists and journalists throughout the country.
He, however kept asserting that no “unauthorised” interceptions had taken place.
The government was seen refraining from making any sharp comments or answering some difficult questions about the alleged spying over selected Indians. In a debate in the Rajya Sabha, the government chose to be silent on issues pertaining to the usage of the Pegasus application for keeping a watch over select persons in the country.
But while a debate was being conducted in Rajya Sabha about this issue, Information Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad chose to remain selective while answering the questions that had been thrown at him. While the Opposition raised several questions about the fact that the government had been engaging in keeping a watch and spying over the phones of about 100 Indians, the government kept saying that it had not engaged in any kind of “unauthorised interception.”
Ravi Shankar Prasad also denied all claims that the Israeli spyware manufacturer had met with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and emphasised on the fact that all electronic communication in India followed a standard operating procedure and that any violation of this goes against the law. The Information Minister denied that use of any “unauthorised interception” but did not issue a formal statement saying that the government had not bought the Israeli spyware Pegasus.
Congress minister Dijvijay Singh raised many questions about the government’s intentions and use of the Pegasus application. However, Ravi Shankar Prasad refrained from answering questions about the specifics of the whole issue.