M A I N   N E W S

Post-outrage, govt says it’s looking into phone tapping
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 24
Even as various political leaders expressed outrage at reports that the government was eavesdropping on their telephone conversations, the UPA Government appeared gearing up to face the heat in Parliament on Monday.

Most shocked was AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh, one of the victims of phone tapping, according to a report in a prominent weekly news magazine. The report claims that National Technical Research Organization (NTRO), a technical intelligence agency set up in the wake of Kargil war, was snooping on politicians rather than terrorists.

Digvijay said, “I do not believe the Manmohan Singh government can do such an unethical thing, but now that this story has come, the government should look into it. Barring situations of national security, phone tapping is illegal under the Indian Telegraph Act,” said the AICC general secretary.

Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office said, “We are getting this examined. We have taken note of it and it is being looked into.”

The CPM, whose general secretary Prakash Karat was also being “spied upon”, has demanded action against those who allegedly ordered the interception of phones, seeking guidelines to prohibit surveillance of leaders.

The CPM also wants intelligence agencies brought under Parliamentary oversight and codification of surveillance on grounds of national security. Asking the government to own up and take action against those who ordered the surveillance, it said the report showed that the government was using the intelligence and security agencies “to serve its political purpose to spy upon opposition leaders and to keep track of even its own allies and party leaders”. “Such acts subvert the democratic system and breeds an atmosphere of illegality in the higher echelons of the government. They cannot be tolerated,” a CPM Politbureau statement said.

“To ensure that such illegal acts do not recur, the government should place in Parliament a clear set of guidelines prohibiting the use of intelligence and security agencies for any form of surveillance of political leaders and their activities,” it said.

The CPI Central Secretariat also expressed shock and regretted that, “instead of gathering information about the activities of anti-nationals, smugglers, terrorists and tax evaders, the government is misusing its power to tap the conversation of political leaders in order to prolong its political survival,” the CPI said. It also demanded a list of political leaders whose phones were tapped and action against those responsible.





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