Out of the six vessels being procured, four would replace the existing aging OPVs and the other two would augment the ICG fleet.
After much uproar in parliament’s Monsoon Session by the Opposition parties, demanding answers from the Modi government on Pegasus snooping, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has today put on record that it had nothing to do with snooping or Israel based NSO Group Technologies.
The reply by the Defence Ministry in Parliament comes at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been critical of opposition parties who he alleged was trying to disrupt parliament sessions to divert attention to “non-issues.”
The Pegasus controversy has recently led Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, chairman of the Standing Committee on Information Technology, accusing the BJP of deliberately scuttling Parliamentary panel meeting on Pegasus.
However, the much-awaited response from the Indian government on Pegasus finally came through a written reply by the Minister of State (MoS), Defence, Ajay Bhatt who wrote., “Ministry of Defence has not had any transaction with NSO Group Technologies.” The minister was replying to a query whether the government had carried out any transaction with the NSO Group Technologies.”
It may be recalled that the apex court recently had sought the Centre’s stand on petitions filed by the Editors Guild of India and senior journalist N. Ram, seeking a probe into the Israeli spyware matter. Apart from that several petitions have been filed in the top court seeking a court-monitored probe into the Pegasus snooping allegations.
The media reports on the Pegasus revealed a list of politicians, journalists, human rights activists whose contact numbers featured in the target list of the spyware. It was reported that an “Indian client” was using it to snoop on these noted Indian citizens.
However, the Modi’s government’s “uncanny silence” on the matter had further raised doubts as to whether the Indian government is using the spyware to gain leverage against opposition parties and influential citizens. It was demanded that the government come clean on the matter and clarify whether it was a client of the Israeli company NSO Group that sells the spyware.
The clarification by the government that MoD did not do any transaction with NSO Group has raised further doubts as to whether it was then the Ministry of Home Affairs, led by Amit Shah, which was involved in a transaction with the Israeli company, said an Opposition leader on conditions of anonymity.