Calling the reports of alleged snooping on prominent citizens using Israeli Pegasus spyware as “baseless”, the ruling BJP on Monday said there is not a single shred of evidence so far that links either the central government or the party to this controversy.
Addressing a press conference, former Information Technology minister and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “BJP strongly refutes, condemns the baseless and bereft of political propriety comments levelled by Congress against the BJP. It is a new low for a party that has ruled India for more than 50 years.”
“There is not a single shred of evidence so far that links either the central government or BJP to this controversy. This is a case of digital spyware, and thus at least some concrete evidence in data form should be presented to vindicate the charges made by the Congress,” former IT minister said.
“There could be any number of potential databases across the world that contain the numbers or names of people. How does any such database concern the government of India unless some evidence is presented? Even for the supposed leak from this database, the people who broke this story itself claim that the presence of a phone number in the database does not mean there was an attempted hack or to infect with Pegasus,” Prasad said.
Hitting out at the web portal (The Wire) which published the reports, Prasad said, “Yesterday, we saw a sensationalist report by a fringe news portal which is infamous for circulating fake news. However, even after days of build-up, it turned out to be a damp squib, as admitted by many people on social media.”
He also attacked Amnesty International and said, “Can we deny that bodies like Amnesty had a declared anti-India agenda in many ways? They withdrew from India when we asked them about their foreign funding as per law.”
“Those who broke the story themselves did not claim that a presence of a particular number in the database confirms that it is infected with Pegasus. It is of paramount importance to reveal all facts in front of the nation. WhatsApp very specifically contended before the Supreme Court that its data cannot be hacked by Pegasus,” he said.
Prasad asked why only India is being targeted for the use of the spyware when 45 nations are using it.
“The NSO, which is the manufacturer of Pegasus, has clearly said that its clients are mostly Western nations. So why is India being targeted in this matter? What is the story behind this? What is the twist in the tale? Some people were brought in and their names were dropped,” he said.