July 23, 2021 12:23:33 am
Several Haryana Congress leaders, including state party chief Kumari Selja, AICC state in-charge Vivek Bansal and several MLAs, were detained Thursday as they tried to march towards the Raj Bhavan while staging a protest against the alleged snooping on Rahul Gandhi, journalists, judges, lawyers, social activists, and industry honchos using Israeli spyware Pegasus.
Police detained them citing violation of orders issued under CrPC section 144, which bans assembly of five or more people at one spot. As the protestors tried to break the barricades, police had to use mild force to disperse the mob. They were then taken to a nearby police station from where they were later released.
Inside the police station complex, the Congress leaders and legislators raised slogans against the central government.
“We were holding a peaceful protest, but the police did not allow us to proceed further,” Selja told reporters. “Police had not only set up barricades, but reinforced these with barbed wires… A few of our MLAs fainted, clothes of a few others got torn… MLAs, who are elected representatives, are not allowed to march. This government wants to suppress the voice of not only the Opposition, but the media as well. They are murdering democracy, which today is in danger”.
Selja said they wanted to hand over a memorandum to the Governor in connection with the snooping row. The memorandum was later handed over to an aide of the Governor at the police station itself.
The Congress leaders, including Selja, Kuldeep Bishnoi and Ajay Singh Yadav said either a Joint Parliamentary Committee should probe or a Supreme Court-monitored judicial probe should be ordered into the snooping row.
Former education minister Geeta Bhukkal said, “It is unpardonable what the BJP government had been doing. They have splurged public’s hard earned money on spying on our leader Rahul Gandhi and several others. They should be made accountable for such illegal acts”.
Another Congress MLA BB Batra added, “It is unfortunate the way BJP government has dumped all Constitutional provisions. The government has trashed all the fundamental rights, all other provisions of the Constitution of India to sever their own vested and political interests”.
Demanding resignation of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Selja said the central government must answer how the alleged use of Pegasus to snoop on at least 300 phone numbers in the country, including those of opposition leaders, activists and journalists, “happened right under its nose”.
She also claimed that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, whose name is on the list of the possible victims of the alleged snooping, has become a “target” for the government as he has constantly been raising various issues of public importance. “How can it be that such things are happening right under the nose of this government? How did this spyware come here, who gave the permission? The government must answer these questions,” the state Congress chief said, adding “rather than taking any constructive action, the government has stated blaming opposition”.
Asked why Leader of Opposition in the Haryana Assembly Bhupinder Singh Hooda did not join the protest, Bansal told reporters that the former chief minister had communicated that he would not be able to come as doctors had advised him a few days of rest on health grounds.
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