Earlier this week, a global collaborative investigative project revealed that Israeli spyware Pegasus was being used to target thousands of people across the world. In India, over 300 people are believed to have been compromised including politicians, journalists and activists.
The Pegasus spyware built by the company NSO Group infects devices and transfers data to a master server. Once installed, the spyware can turn on the microphone and camera and record and transfer chats, contacts, and data.
As the story develops, here are the Indian women who have been listed as potential targets of the spyware so far.
1. Gagandeep Kang
One of India’s leading scientists, Kang is the first Indian woman to be elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society. A virologist and researcher, she is currently a professor in the Department of Gastrointestinal Sciences at Christian Medical College.
2. Pushpa Lata Singh Patel
BJP member and Minister of State for Jal Shakti Prahlad Singh Patel has also been named in the potential list of targets, alongside his wife Pushpa Lata.
3. Sunita Vaishnaw
The wife of Ashwini Vaishnaw, Sunita’s number also featured in the list alongside her husband. Ashwini is a politician from the BJP and former Indian Administrative Service officer who is currently serving as the Minister of Railways, Communications and Electronics & Information Technology of India.
4. Supreme Court staffer
Three phone numbers linked to a female staffer of the Supreme Court who had brought allegations of sexual harassment against former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi were also found on the list. The records revealed that eight other phone numbers belonging to her husband and two of his brothers were also indicated as possible candidates for “surveillance” in the same week when her allegations against the CJI were first reported.
5. Smita Sharma and Vijaita Singh
Former TV18 anchor Smita Sharma and The Hindu journalist Vijaita Singh who covers the home ministry also had phones that showed unsuccessful hacking attempts by Pegasus.
6. Ritika Chopra
Two current editors of The Indian Express were among the list of phone numbers in the leaked list. One was senior assistant editor Ritika Chopra, who covers the Election Commission and the Ministry of Education.
7. Devirupa Mitra
Mitra is currently the diplomatic editor for The Wire.
8. Rohini Singh
A contributor to The Wire, Singh’s number appeared on the list after she reported on the business dealings of Jay Shah, Home Minister Amit Shah’s son, and Nikhil Merchant, a businessman who is close to the Prime Minister.
9. Swati Chaturvedi
A freelance journalist, Chaturvedi often contributes to The Wire and is also the author of the book I Am A Troll, which exposed the workings of the ruling party’s digital arm.
10. Manoranjana Gupta
The Northeast-based editor-in-chief of Frontier TV, Gupta also found a spot on the list.
11. Rupali Jadhav
An anti-caste activist from Pune, Jadhav has been associated with Kabir Kala Manch, an anti-caste group for over a decade.
(Edited by Sanhati Banerjee)