Millennium Post

Snooping cannot go on in our soil

Let there be no second opinion on this: spying on Indian citizens cannot be allowed to go on and the Narendra Modi government has to ensure that this mass and targeted surveillance of our nationals stops immediately. With reports of Nitin Gadkari’s private quarters having been bugged and listening devices recovered from his residence, an old chapter has been reopened, which is threatening to jeopardise the very sovereignty of our political and state apparatus.

While several allegations had been made that the previous UPA regime had willingly allowed the United States of America and its top espionage agency to carry out extensive surveillance of our biggest leaders, including those in the then union cabinet, why is the practice still on under Modi government? Report after report, including one of the first carried by this newspaper, had exposed how under the aegis of US’ National Security Agency and its covert espionage programme PRISM, politicians, cabinet ministers, top business leaders, bureaucrats, think-tank chiefs, policy-makers, civil rights activists and other were being constantly watched and listened to, in entente with the biggest Internet corporations like Facebook, Google, AT&T, AOL, among others.

Nodal diplomatic points such as Indian high commissions, embassies, ministerial offices including then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s office had been bugged, naturally with the connivance of the top bosses within the UPA regime. To the great dismay of many in the civil society and public sphere, the former UPA government, particularly, the external affairs ministry under Salman Khurshid, had not only defended itself but had actively supported the US-led NSA surveillance saying it was for ‘intelligence sharing’ and other indescribable benefits of being snooped by foreign powers with vested interest in Indian political economy.

How, under the drastically changed circumstance scripted by Modi regime, which claims to have redrawn the map of India in terms of heightened global diplomatic clout and substantially raised assertiveness, can the humiliation and eco-political inconvenience of permitting surveillance of Indian politicians and others be allowed? It is but natural to assume that if ministers are not safe from digital spying and cyber-bulling, then no politically disconnected citizen can be deemed safe from such electronic coercion and intrusion of privacy. This is in contradiction to our constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental rights as citizens of this democratic and sovereign republic and it goes against the basic political health of this diverse and huge nation of 120 crore people. It is important that the Prime Minister takes this matter up on an urgent basis and rectifies the problem as he deems fit.            

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