Names of ULFA, AASU leaders also crop up in tapping scandal
More names have tumbled out from Pegasus snoop gate of those who may have been victims of telephone tapping between 2018 and 2019. As per the reports, the phone numbers of six senior officials from Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Pvt. Ltd and Monsanto India were under surveillance in 2018. The ULFA leaders, AASU’s leaders, and Assam’s ultra outfit leaders’ names have also cropped up in the phone tapping list along with names of many Ambedkarites, Dalit activists, and JNU student leaders involved in the Anti-CAA protests.
Meanwhile, international publications like Le Monde and The Washington Post reported President of many countries, including French President Emanuel Macron and the Moroccan King, were also targeted by the Israeli spyware snooping.
The Wire portal’s report on Wednesday suggested that Monsanto was placed on the snooping list around the time the BJP-Shiv Sena Government 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. A few months prior to the formation of the SIT, in October 2017, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had also set up the Field Inspection and Scientific Evaluation Committee (FISEC), under the Department of Biotechnology, to probe the proliferation of unlawful seeds, said the report.
All Assam Students Union (AASU) leaders Samujjal Bhattacharjee, Lurinjyoti Gogoi and Dipanka Nath names were also found on the list of persons under surveillance. The leaked database of Pegasus also showed the name of ULFA leader Anup Chetia. Manipur writer Malem Ningthouja’s number was also on the list.
The activists whose phone numbers figure among those whose phones may have been snooped upon include Ambedkarite activist Ashok Bharti; former Jawahar Lal Nehru University students Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, and Banjyotsna Lahiri; academic and chronicler of life in Naxal-dominated regions Bela Bhatia; railway union leader Shiv Gopal Mishra; Delhi-based labour rights activist Anjani Kumar, anti-coal mining activist Alok Shukla; Delhi University professor Saroj Giri; Bastar-based peace activist Shubhranshu Choudhary; former BBC journalist and trade unionist Sandeep Kumar Rai “Rauzi” who publishes a labour rights media platform called Workers Unity; Rauzi’s colleague Khalid Khan, and Jharkhand-based activist Ipsa Shatakshi.
The Washington Post and Le Monde have reported that telephone numbers linked to at least 14 heads of States and Governments, including French President Emmanuel Macron, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa are among the 50,000 numbers on a leaked database that includes some people whose phones were targeted for hacking by Pegasus spyware.
The phone numbers on the leaked database include at least one king, Morocco’s Mohammed VI, three presidents - France’s Emmanuel Macron, Iraq’s Barham Salih and South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa - and three prime ministers - Pakistan’s Imran Khan, Egypt’s Mostafa Madbouly and Morocco’s Saad-Eddine El Othmani - who are still in office, said Le Monde. There are seven former leaders who were selected when they were still in office. They include Lebanon’s Saad Hariri, Uganda’s Ruhakana Rugunda, Algeria’s Noureddine Bedoui and Belgium’s Charles Michel said the report.