Political parties join social activists to protest snoopgate

Amit Shah
Amit Shah

NEW DELHI: Representatives from four political parties, including Congress, today joined social activists in protesting the snoopgate allegedly involving Narendra Modi and submitted a petition to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking a judicial inquiry into the controversy.

Alleging “blatant violation of Constitutional oath and negation of Right to Privacy,” Shabnam Hashmi from Anhad accused Modi’s close aide Amit Shah of committing offences under the Indian Telegraph Act and Indian Penal Code “under directions” from Gujarat Chief Minister in running an “illegal snooping racket” against a young woman, her friends and acquaintances “transgressing” constitutional and legal power.

She said that 45 Members from 30 social organizations and representatives of four political parties met the President and submitted a memorandum in which they demanded that the kind of surveillance that was done in Gujarat using full state machinery, local IB and ATS is a misuse of the entire state apparatus and a judicial inquiry should be held.”

Mahila Congress President Shobha Oza said the President personally received the petition and she is “hopeful that action will be taken”.

Dismissing a contention that political parties joining the social activists at this juncture give an impression of it being some sort of anti-BJP morcha, CPI leader Annie Raja said that it’s an issue which political parties cutting across party lines should take up.

“Some sort of criticism will be there, you take up any issue. But for us it is a very important issue. If it is today a girl in Gujarat, tomorrow it may be me or somebody else in any other part of the country.

“These are all political issues. It’s not somebody’s personal matter. It is very important for the democracy of our country and safeguarding our Constitution. Political parties cutting across party line should take it up,” she said.

A snooping scandal had come to fore in Gujarat in which suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma has accused Modi of having an intimate relationship with a young woman, who was being snooped by Gujarat Police. Hashmi said BJP should not try to cover up now as giving surveillance and snooping are two different things.

In the 9-page memorandum, women representatives from political parties and social organizations posed 11 questions to the Gujarat government on the whole episode.

Apart from Congress and CPI, the delegation had members from NCP and Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP, besides Member Planning Commission Syeda Hamid, social activist Farah Naqvi, academicians and various organizations like Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, Federation of Catholic Associations Delhi, All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, Aman Biradari, Utthan, Jagori, Shakti Shalini and others.

They alleged that transcripts available on news portals like Gulail and Cobrpost regarding it “reveal shocking, grim and completely unacceptable level of surveillance of the young woman, her friends and acquaintances.”

The delegation said the tapes reflect that “Shah asked for tapping of phones of not only this young woman but also of her friends and acquaintances.”

“Gujarat police followed her across the boundaries of states to malls, restaurants, gyms, when she went to visit relatives, when went to see her mother in hospital, when she took a flight, when she checked in a hotel and to every building she visited or stayed in,” they said in the petition.

Accusing Modi and Shah of adopting a “conspiratorial silence” on the issue, the delegation said the illegal surveillance is “blatant violation” of right to privacy, “misuse” of police machinery, “gross abuse of power”, and “blatant misuse of state resources”.

“Given the grave violations of constitutional rights and laws at the behest of highest executive authority of Gujarat – the Chief Minister and the former Minister of State for Home – and the fact that it is causing great fear and consternation in the minds of the women of the country, the situation requires your direct intervention as Head of the Nation,” the delegation said urging Mukherjee to direct an “independent and fair judicial probe” to restore the confidence of ordinary citizens, particularly women.–PTI

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