AASU Chief Adviser Samujjal Bhattacharyya, ex-ULFA Leader Anup Chetia in Pegasus List

Published: July 22,2021 01:46 PM

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It is being alleged that Government used Pegasus spyware to snoop on journalists, politicians and prominent personalities of the country

July 22, 2021: Amid the Pegasus snooping row that has now snowballed into a huge controversy across India and rocked the Parliament too, names of AASU Chief Adviser Samujjal Bhattacharyya and former ULFA leader Anup Chetia have also been found in the list of names and phone numbers for surveillance by the NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.

 Pegasus is a highly sophisticated spyware that has been referred to as the "most sophisticated smartphone attack ever". It has been developed by Israeli cybersecurity firm NSO Group.

Along with these two prominent figures from Assam the other names from Northeast which figure in the list of names whose phones have been snooped upon or were thought as people of concern are Malem Nongthouja, a Delhi-based writer from Manipur and 5 Naga leaders -

1. Atem Vashum: Leader of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-Isak Muivah), assumed to be the successor to the group’s chairman Th. Muivah.

2. Apam Muivah: Another NSCN (I-M) leader. He is Th. Muivah’s nephew.

3. Anthony Shimray: The commander in chief of the Naga Army of NSCN (I-M).

4. Phunthing Shimrang: The former commander in chief of the NSCN (I-M)’s Naga Army.

5. Kitovi Zhimomi: Convenor of the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs). The Narendra Modi government was in parleys with the groups to find ‘one solution’ to the Naga issue.

The government has dismissed the media reports about using Pegasus software to snoop on Indian politicians, lawyers, bureaucrats, journalists and other prominent personalities. The government said that the news reports are aimed at “maligning Indian democracy”.

But now a Parliamentary Standing Committee, headed by Shashi Tharoor, would be examining the matter. The panel has summoned officials of the Union Home Ministry on July 28 to take their views on the subject ‘Citizens data security and privacy’.

Media platform, The Wire along with 16 other international media organisations have been working on a collaborative investigative project and came out with the report that mentioned that there were 50,000 names which may have been used for surveillance by clients of NSO Group. The Israeli company had said that they sale Pegasus only to governments.