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Amid Pegasus row, Mamata Banerjee says 'my phone already hacked, unable to speak to anyone'

Even as the Centre has so far been unmoved by the calls for a judicial probe into the Pegasus scandal, the Mamata Banerjee-headed Bengal government on July 26 announced a commission of inquiry into the alleged surveillance.

July 28, 2021 / 04:00 PM IST
File image: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee

File image: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee

Amid the escalating row over the alleged used of Pegasus spyware in India, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on July 28 said her phone is "already hacked".

"Even if I'm not on Pegasus, if I speak to Abhishek Banerjee (TMC national general secretary), or PK (election strategist Prashant Kishor) it is hacked. If one phone is hacked, all are hacked," NDTV quoted her as saying.

The statement was issued by Banerjee in New Delhi, where she is expected to meet some of the Opposition leaders including Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Inside the Parliament, Banerjee's party Trinamool Congress (TMC) has been vociferously protesting over the Pegasus scandal. The party, along with other Opposition groups, is demanding for a detailed discussion on the issue in the House.

Even as the Centre has so far been unmoved by the calls for a judicial probe into the Pegasus scandal, the Banerjee-headed Bengal government on July 26 announced a commission of inquiry into the alleged surveillance.

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The panel would be headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice (retd) Madan B Lokur and former Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court, Justice (retd) Jyotirmay Bhattacharya.

Notably, the controversy involving Pegasus, a spyware developed by Israeli firm NSO Group, came to light on July 18. An international media consortium, after accessing a leaked database, reported that more than 300 verified mobile phone numbers in India, including of two serving ministers, over 40 journalists, three opposition leaders and one sitting judge besides scores of business persons and activists could have been targeted for hacking through the Israeli spyware.

Questions were raised at the Centre as the Opposition pointed that NSO Group sells its spyware only to government agencies. However, Union Minister for Electronics and IT, Ashwini Vaishnaw, dismissed the allegations. "NSO has also said that the list of countries shown using Pegasus is incorrect and many countries mentioned are not even our clients. It also said that most of its clients are western countries. It is evident that NSO has also clearly rubbished the claims in the report," he said.
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