Pegasus snooping row: Media bodies demand SC-monitored inquiry

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New Delhi, Jul 22 (PTI) Media bodies such as the Press Club of India and the Editors Guild of India on Thursday condemned the alleged snooping on journalists and others using a spyware while demanding a 'Supreme Court-monitored inquiry' in the matter.

Representatives of these media bodies also criticised the raids on media houses, including Dainik Bhaskar newspaper and Bharat Samachar channel, saying these are efforts to 'crush dissent'.

Representatives of the Press Club of India, the Editors Guild of India, the Indian Women's Press Corps, the Press Association, the Delhi Union of Journalists, along with eminent media personalities, addressed a press conference and demanded that the government should launch a probe in the Pegasus spyware case and come clean on the issue.

'We demand a Supreme Court-monitored inquiry into the acts of surveillance. Media organisations will explore constitutional options for the safeguard of democracy and freedom of press,' the Press Club of India said in a statement.

'The use of the Pegasus spyware to snoop on Indian citizens and groups endangers India's sovereignty and it is necessary that the government of India should intervene decisively and clarify how and why this was done,' it added.

Addressing the gathering, Editors Guild of India general secretary Sanjay Kapoor said, 'This spyware is destroying democracy and it will have to end. What they (Centre) did to Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat samachar is not going to work.' Senior journalist MK Venu said this was not the first time that the government launched an assault on the media.

'The assault on the media has been constant, vicious and unceasing (under this government),' he said.

On the Pegasus issue, Venu said it is being said that the spyware is only sold to governments and questioned why the prime minister and the home minister are shying away from announcing an inquiry.

'Let people know who is doing it (snooping). If some other country is doing it, then it is a cyber attack on the country and India's national security is at risk. We need answers. If there is no inquiry, then media houses should go to the court,' he said.

Veteran journalist Mrinal Pandey condemned the raids on media houses.

'Dainik Bhaskar showed some courage and tried to speak the truth on the Pegasus spyware case and the COVID-19 issue. We were sure that something should happen and today we got to know about the raids on its offices,' she said.

Veteran journalist Prem Shankar Jha alleged that the purpose behind the Pegasus spyware case is to 'crush dissent'.

'They (government) want to deprive us of our right to dissent. Bhima-Koregaon is a perfect example. If democracy dies, India will not survive. The future of the country is at stake through such activities,' he said.

Vinita Pandey of the IWPC said, 'We condemn this snooping. We condemn the raids on media houses too. The government should launch an inquiry in the snooping matter.' PTI AKM RC

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