Mamata Banerjee forms first inquiry panel to look into Pegasus snooping row ahead of Delhi visit

Mamata Banerjee forms first inquiry panel to look into Pegasus snooping row ahead of Delhi visit

Hummingbird News Desk

KOLKATA, 26 JULY: With the alleged use of spyware Pegasus to snoop on journalists, politicians and other personalities generating much political heat at the Centre, chief minister Mamata Banerjee, ahead of her Delhi visit, has constituted a committee to investigate snooping charges through Pegasus spyware in Bengal.

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The probe committee will comprise two retired judges – Justices MB Lokur and Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya.

At a press conference in Nabanna, Miss Banerjee, today, said, “The state government has formed a committee to investigate phone tapping. The decision was taken after the Cabinet’s approval. Supreme Court’s retired judge justice Madan Lokur and former Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court justice Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya are members of the commission which has been formed under the Inquiry Act, 1952.”

“We thought the Centre would form an inquiry commission or a court-monitored probe would be ordered to look into this phone-hacking incident. But the Centre is sitting idle… So we decided to form a commission on inquiry’ to look into the matter,” she said.

Lambasting the Centre, Miss Banerjee reminded that several opposition leaders, journalists and business leaders’ phones have been tapped.

“We are the first state to constitute a commission. I hope other states will follow. One has to wake people up if they aren’t awake,” she said.

“Names of people from West Bengal have figured on the Pegasus target list. The Centre is trying to snoop on everyone. The commission will find out details about this illegal hacking,” the CM added.

A massive political row erupted in the country and other parts of the globe after media reports claimed that the Pegasus spyware was used to infiltrate phones and conduct surveillance on political leaders, government officials and journalists.

The issue resonated inside and outside Parliament. Opposition parties, including the Congress, disrupted both Houses and demanded a probe.

In a statement in the Lok Sabha, Union Information and Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw questioned the timing of the report and said illegal surveillance was impossible with checks and balances in place.

The Trinamul supremo had attacked the Narendra Modi-led Centre for tapping the phones of her nephew and Diamond Harbour MP Abhishek Banerjee and the party’s election strategist Prashant Kishor during her address on ‘Shahid Diwas’.

The Congress has demanded a joint parliamentary committee probe on the issue, asking if the central government wasn’t snooping on numerous targets, then who was since NSO Group has incessantly stressed that it sells Pegasus only to “vetted governments”.

Miss Banerjee’s virtual address which was beamed on giant screen across several states including New Delhi at the Constitution Club where top leaders of the opposition-P Chidambaram of Congress and Sharad Pawar of NCP-were present, indicating the galvanising of rival strength since Bengal CM torpedoed the BJP juggernaut in the Assembly election.

She had been recently elected as the party’s parliamentary party chairperson which will give the seven-time MP more access to opposition leaders and the labyrinth of Delhi corridors.

Tags: #MamataBanerjee #Pegasus #InquiryCommittee #Commission

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