New Delhi: Former Border Security Force (BSF) director-general KK Sharma, senior Enforcement Directorate (ED) officer Rajeshwar Singh, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s former aide VK Jain, a retired Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) officer, a junior official from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), and two former army officers’ phone numbers were all listed as potential targets for Pegasus surveillance, a report by The Wire stated on Monday.
Forbidden Stories, a non-profit located in France, was the first to get the database, which was then shared with a group of media organisations from ten countries. Amnesty International examined the devices related to at least 67 of the numbers, and 37 of them showed signs of being hacked by Pegasus. Ten of the 37 belonged to Indians who lived in the area.
A month after attending a meeting organised by an associate of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, KK Sharma’s number was added to a list of possible monitoring targets (RSS). The event sparked outrage in West Bengal, with the Trinamool Congress requesting an investigation into Sharma’s attendance at an RSS function while on official business.
Between 2017 and 2019, the numbers of ED Joint Director Rajeshwar Singh and his family members were also selected for probable surveillance, as per The Wire. Singh has investigated several high-profile cases, including the 2G spectrum allocation scam and the role of former finance minister P Chidambaram.
The database also has the phone number of VK Jain, a former IAS official who served as one of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s top consultants. When the Delhi government started working on its education and infrastructure welfare programmes in 2018, the number was added to the database.
Colonel Mukul Dev (retd), a former army officer who has been at odds with the Centre on a variety of topics, including the elimination of complimentary rations for officers posted in peace zones, was also listed as a potential target in 2019.
“I have been victimised by this government in every possible manner for fighting for the welfare of the armed forces. This is the state of the present government. I knew back in 2018 that I was under surveillance when I filed a complaint with the Punjab Police following a direct threat to me”, said Dev as noted by The Wire.
NSO Group has said on several instances that it only works with verified government clients. The firm has denied that the numbers on the leaked list are those targeted by its customers.
Former Congress party head Rahul Gandhi, two of his aides, political strategist Prashant Kishor, former election commissioner Ashok Lavasa, and union minister Prahlad Patel were all allegedly hacked according to allegations released last week. The number of the lady who accused former Chief Justice of India Rajan Gogoi of sexual harassment was also included on the list, as was the number of their friends and family members.