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When will this snooping end?

It is common for countries to conduct espionage and intelligence on other countries that pose a political or military challenge or may pose a future threat. It is accepted as an inevitable evil necessary to ensure the security of countries and their precious wealth including their citizens, even though it is against international etiquette and morality. It is no secret that the Indian intelligence agency keeps a constant vigil tly monitoring what is happening in our neighbouring country, considered an enemy country. They, on the other hand, have been using different methods to steal our secrets too. The incident of Pradeep Kurulkar, a scientist who was a part of many strategic projects including the Agni missile of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the apex body in the field of defence, handing over highly classified documents to a female Pakistani Intelligence Operative (PIO) has been in the news recently. The scientist is also one of the prominent swayamsevak of the Sangh Parivar, the guiding force of the country's ruling party. This year, it was also made public that Baburam Dey, a senior DRDO official, had disclosed to the enemy nation's intelligence agents the details of the nation's missile testing. Eighteen officers from the Army, Air Force, and Navy have been accused of leaking state secrets throughout the past eight years. It is a relief that at least after several secrets were handed over, some of those responsible for them were put on trial thanks to the efforts of police and anti-terrorist intelligence organisations.

Even while our secrets are shared across borders in this way, our government is more interested in getting the secrets of its own leaders and citizens. Two years ago, it came to light that the Pegasus spy software, created by Israel—a country that indiscriminately carries out occupation and war crimes—had been used to hack the phones of numerous individuals, including Union Ministers, political figures, over forty journalists, activists, and businessmen. In addition to listening in on phone calls and messages, this system uses our phones—which we carry around like vital organs—as weapons against us by infecting them with malware that fabricates evidence. Phones and computers trapped by Pegasus can be controlled by forces anywhere. Despite the country's Supreme Court appointing a committee to look into the Pegasus espionage, which violates people's fundamental rights, the government refused to co-operate with the committee in its investigation. As of now, further action needs to be taken on the report submitted by the committee.

Now that the country is on the doorstep of the general elections, allegations are being raised about attempts being made to hack the phones of many of the opposition political leaders in the country. Apple, the phone maker, has warned many prominent leaders of the opposition like Shashi Tharoor, Sitaram Yechury, Pawan Khera, Mahua Moitra, Asaduddin Owaisi and Priyanka Chaturvedi that state-sponsored attackers are trying to snoop on them. If this is the case with iPhone, which is believed to have some capability to identify and prevent data leaks, then one can only imagine to what extent the government is eavesdropping on activists and media workers who use low-tech phones. it is to be presumed then that this kind of espionage is continuously conducted in order to sabotage news and popular movements that oppose the government and its allies, as well as industrial groups and communal terrorist organisations. If these efforts aimed at silencing opposition voices had been shown to identify and counter the forces trying to destabilize the country across the border, China would not have encroached into Arunachal Pradesh and carried out construction activities, and the secrets of our defence institutions would not have been leaked to Pakistan. It is unfortunate that the people of this country, as well as the political, religious, and cultural parties and organisations that represent them are viewed as enemies by the right-wing central government. How can a country that spies on people and their leaders with their tax money be hailed as the "Mother of Democracy"? This intrusion is not only undemocratic but also a complete violation of human rights and fundamental rights. This needs to end.

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TAGS:OppositionCentral GovernmentPegasusData leakIntelligencePakistani spyDRDO espionage case
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