Phone-tapping: Cong steps up campaign,targets Dhumal

Stepping up its stir for an in depth probe into alleged phone tapping episode,the Himachal Congress on Tuesday asked the government to identify culprits,including politicians and key government functionaries,who infringed upon the citizens’ privacy by illegally tapping their phones during the earlier BJP regime.

Written by Express News Service | Shimla | Updated: April 17, 2014 12:25 pm

Stepping up its stir for an in depth probe into alleged phone tapping episode,the Himachal Congress on Tuesday asked the government to identify culprits,including politicians and key government functionaries,who infringed upon the citizens’ privacy by illegally tapping their phones during the earlier BJP regime.

Led by Irrigation and Public Health Minister Vidya Stokes and state party president Sukhwinder Sukhu,the party alleged former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal was behind the whole episode and demanded a high-level probe.

“The way the previous government resorted to large scale phone tapping,not sparing even Virbhadra Singh — a former Union minister and now the chief minister — shows that Dhumal was perpetuating a regime where no one was safe. It appears Dhumal himself felt threatened and politically vulnerable. He has lowered the standards of politics,” party vice-president Harsh Mahajan said.

“The BJP,a principal national Opposition party,has made an issue after someone accessed Arun Jaitley’s call records. The party itself has exceeded all limits to violate the Indian Telegraph Act and Indian Technology (Amendment ) for phone taping of politicians,judges,contractors and journalists. Its criminalisation of the administration,” Sukhu said.

He added that around 1,600 phones were tapped against permission of barely 234 phones by the state CID and Vigilance wing. “Under law,telephones of only criminals,anti-national elements and narcotic smugglers and suspects are allowed to be tapped. But here it was free for all,” said Sukhu.

“It’s unimaginable.The government will take action in the matter after a proper inquiry,” said Stokes.

BJP says phone tapping ‘noise’ is Cong diversionary tactic

State BJP on Tuesday rejected Congress’ illegal phone tapping charge as a diversionary tactic to mislead the people,particularly youths. “The government is free to conduct any inquiry. The party has already demanded a probe by sitting high court judge if any illegal phone tapping was done during the earlier regime. But it is not true,” BJP spokesperson Ganesh Dutt told mediapersons.

Claiming that the BJP government had never ordered phone tapping of politicians or anyone else,he added: “The government and CID has its own procedure to follow to tap phones of criminals and other elements. But if someone had spoken to those persons,whose phones were put under surveillance for criminal activities,those persons may have some under scanner.”

“The party was ready for any probe as it had not done any wrong. Yet,an inquiry was needed to know if some officers had exceeded their powers to tap phones on their own. But there are little chances,as no officer will put his job at the risk,” Dutt said.

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