More names tumble out from second list of Pegasus phone tapping
In what could be termed as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Watergate moment, more names are tumbled out from the Pegasus phone tapping incident in India. A day after the list of journalists came out, putting the Government in a tight spot, more names of persons like Rahul Gandhi, even Union Ministers like Ashwini Vaishnaw, Prahlad Patel, the lady staffer, and her family who accused Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi of sexual abuse also figured the tapped list of Pegasus Project released on Monday. Political strategist Prashant Kishore and former Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa and Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee’s names were found in the second part of the tapped list published by the Wire portal along with 15 International media organizations like Forbidden stories, Washington Post and Guardian.
As per the reports, Rahul Gandhi and seven of his friends’ phones were snooped upon along with two party colleagues, Alankar Swai and Sachin Rao. The tapping is reported to have taken place during the 2018-19 period. Gandhi told The Wire that he had received suspicious WhatsApp messages in the past – one of the known vectors for a spyware hack – and frequently changed numbers and instruments so as to make it “a little harder for them” to target him.
The Pegasus list also includes someone who has been a key part of India’s battle against COVID-19, the virologist Gagandeep Kang.
The leaked data has also revealed that over 11 phone numbers belonging to the Supreme Court staffer and her close relatives who accused former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment in April 2019 were selected as targets for surveillance. It is reported that the lady staffer and her family’s numbers came under snooping after she complained against Gogoi. The list also includes someone who has been a key part of India’s battle against COVID-19, the virologist Gagandeep Kang. Also included are Hari Menon, the India head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and at least one other foundation employee, who was selected in mid-2019.
Former Election Commissioner Lavasa was not in the good books of the Government after he dissented and reported on Model Code violations by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Lok Sabha election campaigns. The records also include a founder of key election watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), Jagdeep Chhokhar, who was entered onto the list at around the same time as Lavasa.
Modi’s arch-rival and former VHP President Pravin Togadia, Smriti Irani’s former OSD Sanjay Kachroo’s names are also figured in the snooping list. On Sunday evening, around 40 Indian journalists’ names were figured in the tapped list.
There are reports that in the coming days more names of tapped personalities such as senior Cabinet Ministers and Supreme Court Judges will be revealed. Some senior officers including from the probe agencies also were tapped.
 Pegasus Project Day 2: Rahul Gandhi, Prashant Kishor, Ashok Lavasa, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Prahlad Patel – Jul 19, 2021, The Wire
 Rahul Gandhi Selected as Potential Spyware Target in Run Up to 2019 Polls and After – Jul 19, 2021, The Wire
 Snoop List Has 40 Indian Journalists, Forensic Tests Confirm Presence of Pegasus Spyware on Some – Jul 18, 2021, The Wire
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets leading American CEOs - September 23, 2021
- Pegasus snooping: Supreme Court to form an expert panel to probe usage of spyware. Will pass order next week - September 23, 2021
- After Supreme Court’s intervention, Centre agrees for Rs.50,000 compensation on Covid deaths. Around Rs.2500 crores the estimated cost - September 22, 2021