Digvijaya on Pegasus row: Fortunately, I stopped using my old phone number

·2-min read

Bhopal, Jul 19 (PTI) Congress veteran Digvijaya Singh on Monday said he managed to escape the alleged phone tapping using Israeli spyware Pegasus because he had stopped using his old mobile number which was mentioned in a letter related to the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case.

The Rajya Sabha MP said he had already raised the issue of alleged snooping on certain individuals through the Pegasus spyware in December 2019.

“I was not on WhatsApp on the number they had mentioned in the letter from one Naxalite to another other and the case registered against me in Pune. Fortunately for me, I had stopped using that phone (number) for a long time, therefore I could not be implicated,” Singh told reporters here.

The former chief minister was replying to a question whether he suspects that even his phone may have been compromised in the Pegasus spyware case.

More than 300 verified mobile phone numbers, including of two serving ministers, over 40 journalists, three opposition leaders and one sitting judge, besides scores of business persons and activists in India could have been targeted for hacking through the Israeli spyware sold only to government agencies, an international media consortium had reported on Sunday.

In 2018, the Pune police had seized a letter in connection with the Elgar Parishad probe referring to a mobile number purportedly belonging to Singh.

The letter, seized in nationwide raids, was made part of a chargesheet filed against activists arrested for alleged Maoist links in connection with the Elgar Parishad case.

Singh was referring to the same letter.

The Centre has, however, categorically rejected allegations of snooping on politicians, journalists and others using Pegasus, asserting illegal surveillance was not possible with checks and balances in the country's laws, and alleged that attempts were being made to malign Indian democracy.

In reply to another question, the Congress leader said there was no need to enact population control laws.

“The Uttar Pradesh government is talking about the population control law to divert attention of people from issues like poverty, inflation and unemployment,” he said.

Singh said, “The fertility rate in our country is coming down without any law. Our total fertility rate has come down from four children per woman to about two to three children and there is a possibility that the total fertility rate will come to 2.1 by the year 2025.' So, there was no need to enact population control laws, he added. PTI ADU RSY RSY

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