3 JNU Alumni Among Activists on Pegasus Spy List: Report | Latest India News
New Delhi: Three former students of Jawaharlal Nehru University, including imprisoned activist Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya who were involved in the JNU sedition in 2016, were among those potentially spied on using Israeli spyware Pegasus , digital media The Wire reported on Tuesday. .
In 2016, Khalid and Bhattacharya were charged with sedition over certain anti-Indian slogans allegedly brought up during an event held at JNU in February of the same year. They were then pursuing a doctorate at the university and belonged to an alleged far-left organization, the Democratic Students’ Union. Khalid is now in prison after being indicted under the Illegal Activities (Prevention) Act for his alleged role in the 2020 communal riots in northeast Delhi.
The third ex-student is Banojyotsna Lahiri, who completed her doctorate in 2015 and is friends with Khalid and Bhattacharya.
According to the list released by a global collaborative investigative project, which includes The Wire from India, several other activists were also on the spy list. These include University of Delhi professor Saroj Giri; Ambedkarite activist Ashok Bharti; scholar Bela Bhatia who tells about life in regions affected by naxalism; the head of the railway workers’ union Shiv Gopal Mishra; Delhi-based labor rights activist Anjani Kumar; anti-coal mining activist Alok Shukla; Shubhranshu Choudhary, peace activist based in Bastar; and Bihar-based activist Ipsa Shatakshi, the report notes. HT could not independently verify this.
Lahiri has been associated as an activist with United Against Hate, a grassroots campaign that began in 2017 in response to mob lynchings. She said reports of the alleged surveillance attack showed a pattern – these were mostly against dissidents. “I have been told that my name’s timestamp is 2017-18. I cannot have the phone checked by forensics because I no longer use the device. However, the diagram of those being watched shows that these were people whose voices were not approved by the regime, ”Lahiri said.
The UAH activist also said the period of surveillance coincides with when they track down and communicate with the families of victims of hate crimes and mob lynching. “It’s scary because these families are more vulnerable than us and I was in contact with them. The government has denied being behind this. If so, they should find out who did this, because politicians, Supreme Court justices and even election commission officials were targeted, ”she said.
Bhattacharya said he was aware of the possibility of being under surveillance as the government had targeted dissidents. “The government’s priority is to go against those who question it and defend democratic values. An independent judicial inquiry is a minimum that should be done. The act of surveillance shows the dishonest intention of the government to attack dissenting voices and suo motu knowledge must be taken into account for the release of all political prisoners that the government has regularly targeted, ”Bhattacharya said.