IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Monday categorically denied government’s involvement in the phone tapping row. Speaking on the floor of the Lok Sabha, he said that in the past, similar claims were made regarding use of Pegasus on WhatsApp. He said that attempts are being made to malign democracy and institutions, adding that reports have no factual basis and were denied by all parties.
“A highly sensational story was published by a web portal last night. Many over-the-top allegations made around this story. The press reports appeared a day before the monsoon session of Parliament. This can’t be a coincidence,” Vaishnaw said amid slooganeering by the Oppositio.
“Press reports of July 18 also appear to be an attempt to malign Indian democracy & its well-established institutions,” he said.
An international media consortium on Sunday reported that more than 300 verified mobile phone numbers, including of two serving ministers, over 40 journalists, three opposition leaders and one sitting judge besides scores of business persons and activists in India could have been targeted for hacking through the Israeli spyware sold only to government agencies. The government, however, dismissed allegations of any kind of surveillance on its part on specific people, saying it “has no concrete basis or truth associated with it whatsoever”.