Top Politicians And Journalists Including Rahul Gandhi, PK Are Among Potential Targets Of Spyware Pegasus: Report

by Shatakshi Gupta

Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International, a Paris-based organization, have a list of about 50,000 phone numbers. Both organizations claim that these are the numbers that have been hacked through Pegasus spyware. Both these institutions have shared this list with 16 media organizations around the world. After weeks of investigation, it has been revealed that the governments of different countries are spying on many people including journalists, opposition leaders, businessmen, social workers, lawyers and scientists.

 India’s name is also in this list.  According to the report of the news portal ‘The Wire’, the names of 300 Indian people are included in the people who have been spied. The spyware Pegasus made by the Israeli company has been used for spying.

Also read: PM Modi’s Personal Website Twitter Handle Was Hacked, Hackers Demanded Donation In Cryptocurrency

The list includes 40 journalists, three top leaders of the opposition, a person holding a constitutional post, two ministers of the Modi government and several businessmen including current and former heads of security agencies. These journalists are associated with institutions like Hindustan Times, Indian Express, TV-18, The Hindu, The Tribune, The Wire. Many independent journalists are also named among them.

What is Pegasus?

Pegasus is spyware. Spyware is software used for spying or surveillance.  Through this, any phone can be hacked. Once this spyware enters into your device, all the information including the camera, mic, messages and calls of that phone goes to the hacker. This spyware is made by the Israeli company NSO Group.

Top politicians included in the revealed list:

The number of names included in the spyware list of Pegasus spyware is getting longer. The report has claimed that the names of two union ministers, Rahul Gandhi and Prashant Kishor are also included in this list. It has been told that there are two phone numbers used by Rahul Gandhi in this list.

The report also claimed that the list also includes the phone numbers of five friends and acquaintances of Rahul Gandhi. However, these five people have no role in politics or public affairs. Meanwhile, after the report surfaced, Indian Youth Congress President Srinivas has said that Rahul Gandhi has been taken on the Pegasus target since the time of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

 According to India Today’s report, political strategist Prashant Kishor and Lok Sabha MP Abhishek Banerjee are also in the list. Prashant Kishor and Abhishek Banerjee have played an instrumental role in the Trinamool Congress’s victory in the recent West Bengal Assembly elections.  Abhishek Banerjee is the nephew of incumbent West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The phones of some of his close friends were also included in the list of Pegasus.

 Apart from all this, the phones of two union ministers were also taken on target.  These two ministers are Ashwini Vaishnav and Prahlad Patel. Ashwini Vaishnav has recently been inducted into the Union Cabinet. He has been given important ministries like communication, information technology, electronics and railways. Prahlad Patel was the state Jal Shakti Minister. 

The number that former Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa used in 2019 has also been found in this list. Besides, the number of Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Pravin Togadia is also included in the list for espionage. It is claimed that a total of 300 Indian numbers were being spied on through Pegasus.

 However, in the same report it has been said that it is not yet confirmed whether their mobile phones have been tampered with in reality or not. This will be confirmed when forensic examination of all these mobiles will be done.