BREAKING | #PegasusProject

In the run up to the toppling of the opposition-run state govt in Karnataka in July 2019, the numbers of deputy CM G. Parameshwara and the personal secretaries of CM H.D. Kumaraswamy and former CM Siddaramaiah were on the list.…
The records indicate that the phone numbers of some of the key political players in Karnataka appear to have been selected around the time after 17 ruling alliance’s legislators abruptly resigned to force a trust vote in the assembly. | @AjoyAshirwad…
@AjoyAshirwad This period also coincides with the selection of a new number Rahul Gandhi began to use after discarding an earlier one he had been operation, and which had been on the list of potential spyware targets since 2018.…
@AjoyAshirwad The timing surrounding their selections is crucial as during this time, the Congress and the JD(S) alleged that the BJP, actively backed by the Union govt, was attempting to topple their coalition govt by poaching their party legislators.…
@AjoyAshirwad Although the BJP had denied these allegations, all rebels MLAs, who were subsequently disqualified by the Speaker, later joined the saffron party and were nominated as BJP candidates in the by-polls after the fall of the Kumaraswamy-led government.…
@AjoyAshirwad The alleged horse-trading of legislators was quickly dubbed in the mainstream press as ‘Operation Lotus’ – a term first coined by opposition parties to hint at the ruling BJP’s allegedly frequent attempts to topple democratically-elected governments.…
@AjoyAshirwad The phone number of former Congress CM Siddaramaiah’s personal secretary Venkatesh was added in the same period.

Sources close to Siddaramaiah said that he hasn’t used a personal phone for many years, and relies on his aides for phone conversations.…
@AjoyAshirwad Curiously, a phone number of a policeman, Manjunath Muddegowda, whom The Wire confirmed as one of the security personnel of former Prime Minister and JD(S) president H.D. Devegowda, also appears in the leaked records.…
@AjoyAshirwad Throughout this tumultuous political drama, the decisions of the Supreme Court bench headed by then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi helped the BJP in cornering the ruling alliance further.…

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More from @thewire_in

21 Jul
BREAKING | #PegasusProject

Two political personalities from Assam, Samujjal Bhattacharjee of AASU and Anup Chetia of the pro-talks faction of ULFA are in the leaked list of potential spyware targets, along with a Manipuri writer. | @sangbarooahpish…
@sangbarooahpish On July 16, 2019, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced the reconstitution of a ‘high level committee’ to implement Clause 6, a salient section of the Assam Accord.

Bhattacharjee's number was added on the list less than a month before this.…
@sangbarooahpish The clause is designed to provide ‘constitutional safeguards” to the “Assamese people” and its importance had come to the fore in the wake of the Modi government’s stated desire to amend the Citizenship Act...…
Read 8 tweets
21 Jul
BREAKING | #PegasusProject

In 2018, the phone numbers of 6 senior officials from Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Pvt. Lt and Monsanto India were selected as possible candidates for surveillance.…
In February 2018, the then BJP govt in Maharashtra set up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe companies that were allegedly selling or releasing unapproved herbicide-tolerant (HT) transgenic cotton, or Bt cotton, seeds in the state.…
In particular, the state had accused several seed companies of surreptitiously releasing the seeds in several cotton-growing districts of Maharashtra, and parts of Gujarat, Telangana and Karnataka.…
Read 9 tweets
21 Jul
BREAKING | #PegasusProject There is circumstantial evidence to believe the attempt to surveil Gagandeep Kang – today a household name because of her work on the SARS-CoV-2 virus – is linked to the Nipah virus outbreak. | @1amnerd…
@1amnerd Around the same time, between April and July 2018, the name of another individual shows up as having been selected for potential surveillance.

This individual, who did not consent to being named...…
@1amnerd ...was involved in a collaboration that included the Manipal Centre for Virus Research (MCVR), to monitor the Nipah outbreak.

In February 2020, India’s health ministry alleged that MCVR was storing Nipah virus samples without the proper safeguards.…
Read 7 tweets
20 Jul
BREAKING | #PegasusProject

The numbers of Umar Khalid, Ambedkarite activist Ashok Bharti, Bela Bhatia, railway union leader Shiv Gopal Mishra, and many others are listed in the database of those potentially targeted for surveillance.…
The list also includes former JNU students Anirban Bhattacharya and Banjyotsna Lahiri, anti-coal mining activist Alok Shukla; DU professor Saroj Giri; Bastar-based peace activist Shubhranshu Choudhary and Bihar-based activist Ipsa Shatakshi.…
.@AjoyAshirwad, @sukanyashantha, and @kabira_tweeting report that their appearance on the list suggests that they were persons of interest to an unidentified client of the NSO Group that was focused on India.…
Read 7 tweets
20 Jul
On the subject of the potential surveillance targeting of the staffer who accused former CJI Gogoi of sexual harassment, @ShashiTharoor says, "It's difficult to understand why an ordinary woman, in this deeply personal case, was being targeted."

@ShashiTharoor "If she was being surveilled, what was found out? If something was found out, who was it told to? Was CJI Gogoi given the fruit of this surveillance? And if after all this surveillance, CJI Gogoi won the case, why was she brought back to the court?"

Read 4 tweets
20 Jul
On asked whether the Congress govt also spied on citizens while it was in power, @ShashiTharoor says that while he accepts that spying might have taken place, the difference is that Congress did it within the bounds of the law.


@ShashiTharoor "We have to laws -- Telegraph Act 1885, and the IT Act 2000. The govt can only authorize interceptions according to these laws. An RTI showed people that when the UPA govt was in power, around 9000 tapping authorisations were given, all within laws...:

@ShashiTharoor "...with reasons written down, with notations in files, with the tapping ongoing for 2 months, saying it could not extend beyond 6 months. These are the laws, and operating within these laws is a govt's right."


Read 4 tweets

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