Chandigarh, Jul 22 (PTI) Haryana Congress leaders, including MLAs, staged a protest here on Thursday in connection with the Pegasus snooping row, but were detained by the police when they tried to march towards the Raj Bhavan.
Led by AICC in-charge of Haryana affairs Vivek Bansal and state Congress chief Kumari Selja, the leaders and workers gathered at the party office here. They staged a protest outside the party office, but as they tried to march towards the Raj Bhavan, police detained them citing violation of orders issued under CrPC section 144, which bans assembly of five or more people at one spot.
Bansal, Selja, other Congress leaders and MLAs including Ajay Singh Yadav, Aftab Ahmed, Geeta Bhukkal, Shakuntala Khatak were then taken in a bus to a nearby police station from where they were later released.
Inside the police station complex, the Congress leaders and legislators raised slogans against the central government.
'We were holding a peaceful protest, but the police did not allow us to proceed further,' Selja told reporters.
'Police had not only set up barricades, but reinforced these with barbed wires... A few of our MLAs fainted, clothes of a few others got torn as they caught in barbed wire when they were trying to march towards the Raj Bhavan. MLAs, who are elected representatives, are not allowed to march. This government wants to suppress the voice of not only the Opposition, but the media as well. They are murdering democracy, which today is in danger,' alleged Selja, a former Union minister.
The opposition party leaders said they wanted to hand over a memorandum to the Governor in connection with the snooping row.
However, the memorandum was later handed over to an aide of the Governor.
Congress leaders including Selja, Kuldeep Bishnoi and Ajay Singh Yadav said either a Joint Parliamentary Committee should probe or a Supreme Court-monitored judicial probe should be ordered into the snooping row.
Demanding resignation of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Selja said the central government must answer how the alleged use of Israeli spyware Pegasus to snoop on at least 300 phone numbers in the country, including those of opposition leaders, activists and journalists, 'happened right under its nose'.
She also claimed that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, whose name is on the list of the possible victims of the alleged snooping, has become a 'target' for the government as he has constantly been raising various issues of public importance. 'How can it be that such things are happening right under the nose of this government? How did this spyware come here, who gave the permission? The government must answer these questions,' the state Congress chief said.
Asked why Leader of Opposition in the Haryana Assembly Bhupinder Singh Hooda did not join the protest, Bansal told reporters that the former chief minister had communicated that he would not be able to come as doctors had advised him a few days of rest on health grounds.
An international media consortium reported on Sunday that more than 300 verified mobile phone numbers, including of two serving Union ministers, over 40 journalists, three opposition leaders and a sitting judge, besides scores of businessmen and activists in India could have been targeted for hacking through the Pegasus spyware. PTI SUN VSD CK