Updated: July 21, 2021 10:00:53 am
The BJP-led government, which helmed the state from 2014 to 2019, never availed the services of NSO Group — the Israeli firm behind the spyware Pegasus — for phone-tapping, leader of the Opposition in the state legislative assembly Devendra Fadnavis said on Tuesday.
Terming allegation made by the Congress and the NCP as baseless, Fadnavis said, “During my tenure as Chief Minister of Maharashtra, we had never availed the services of NSO.”
Addressing media persons, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said even though the state DGIPR (Directorate General of Information and Public Relations) had gone to Israel post 2019-Assembly election; it was a “scheduled visit, the agenda of which was to study the advanced agriculture technology (in use there).”
Fadnavis said the state government was free to investigate the matter, adding, “I can state with confidence the probe will bring out the truth in the public.”
Referring to reports of Pegasus being used to tap phones of politicians, media persons and industrialists, Fadnavis said, “There is an international conspiracy against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. Look at the timing: The report is leaked a day before the Parliament session commences. It is (part of a) a process to derail the Parliament session.”
He added: “The Indian Telegraph Act has strong checks and balances. It does not allow illegal hacking. Even in the rare cases of intelligence monitoring, strict modus operandi has to be followed.”
Fadnavis said that in the past, the UPA government led by former PM Manmohan Singh had also faced charges of phone tapping and hacking of email accounts.
Earlier, Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant demanded an investigation into “phone tapping” during the previous Fadnavis-led government.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and state cabinet minister Nawab Malik said, “Phone tapping is a serious matter. If NSO says it does not provide services to private companies, we would like to know which government agency was assigned the task of phone tapping at the Centre.”
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