July 26, 2021

In India, a state within a state ready to do anything to protect the prime minister

By Julien Bouissou

Posted today at 13:51, updated at 13:53

This photograph taken and released by the Indian Press Information Office shows Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi during the 7th International Yoga Day, via video conference, in New Delhi, India on June 21, 2021.

India, which likes to define itself as the world’s largest democracy, has been placed under massive surveillance. The authorities selected from 2017 more than 2,000 issues, in India and Pakistan, as potential targets of the spyware Pegasus, marketed by the Israeli company NSO Group. This is revealed by a data leak from NSO consulted by Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International and shared with sixteen media outlets around the world, including The world. Use of the software begins just after Mr. Modi’s visit to Israel in July 2017, the first by a head of government since India’s independence in 1947, and during which several cooperation agreements were signed. been signed, in particular with regard to the fight against terrorism.

Among the personalities targeted are journalists, human rights defenders, foreign diplomats, local officials of NGOs such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, political leaders, including the leader of the Congress Party, Rahul Gandhi, the Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan… and even the gardener of an Indian minister. Opponents and allies, no one seems to escape this potential surveillance. Are concerned officials of an Indian security agency and two ministers of Mr. Modi, Prahlad Singh Patel, in charge of water resources, and Ashwini Vaishnaw, then in charge of information technologies. A state within a state has settled at the head of India, invisible to all and escaping any democratic control.

Not surprisingly, Pakistan is the most scrutinized country. The numbers of Imran Khan and several of his ambassadors in India appear on the list as potential targets. Dozens of other diplomats and ambassadors posted in Delhi are also included, whether from Iran, Afghanistan, China, Nepal or Saudi Arabia. In Kashmir, several separatist leaders, including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and human rights defenders are also potential targets. Analysis of the smartphone of Syed Abdul Rehman Geelani, a former professor at the University of Delhi who fought for the release of political prisoners in Kashmir, shows that he has been infected numerous times since 2017, until his death in October 2019. It is with this type of message that the Indian state managed to make him click on a tricked link: “The European Union shows its unconditional support for India on the Kashmir issue during the visit of PM Modi. “

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