WhatsApp confirmed that Indian Rights Activists and Journalists targeted by Israeli spyware Pegasus.

WhatsApp has confirmed that Indian Rights Activists, Tribal Area Lawyers, Dalit Activists, and Journalists were targeted by operators using Israeli spyware Pegasus.

Amongst those who were targeted, as reported by Indian Express, are as under:- Ravindranath Bhalla: Adv Telangana HC and GS of Committee for release of Political Prisoners
– Shalini Gera: Bastar based lawyer for jailed activist Sudha Bharadwaj
– Anand Teltumbe: Civil and Dalit Rights Activist, was arrested for alleged involvement in Elgar Parishad then released.
– Bela Somari/Bhatia:Bastar Based human rights lawyer and activist
– Nihal Singh Rathod: Nagpur based lawyer in Bhima Koregaon case
– Jagdish Meshram: Gadchiroli based lawyer
– Ankit Grewal: Chandigarh based human rights lawyer
– Degree Prasad Chouhan: Chattisgarh based dalit and human rights activist
– Seema Azad: Human rights activist from Allahabad
– Dr. Saroj Giri: Lecturer Political Science, DU
– Amar Singh Chahal: Chandigarh based human rights lawyer
– Rajeev Sharma: Delhi based columnist
– Shubhranshu Chaudhary: Formerly with BBC world service, now a “Peace journalist”
– Santosh Bharatiya: Editor in Chief, Chauthi Duniya, Delhi
– Ashish Gupta: Delhi based journalist
– Dr. Ajmal Khan: Delhi based civil rights activist

All the above-mentioned people have confirmed that they were contacted by WhatsApp agencies informing them of their phones being hacked.

What is interesting to note is that the Pegasus developer, NSO Group, has claimed on record that it licenses its software only to Government agencies and/or Government approved agencies.

The questions that need to be asked are:

– Which agencies purchased the Pegasus license for operating in India?
– Were these Government approved agencies?
– Did the Government of India know about this or did individuals/groups/agencies act on their own accord?
– What steps will the Govt of India take to ensure that the privacy of Indian citizens will not be infringed upon by such illegal means?

Of course, while the Modi Sarkar should be asking questions to NSO, Israel about whom they sold the software license to, they are instead asking WhatsApp, who is clearly the one who got hacked.

Interestingly, the line of argument taken by the BJP spokesperson is of blaming WhatsApp for building a platform that is prone to be hacked … as if there is one single platform, which isn’t hackable.

This is like blaming the house owner whose house got burgled, instead of going after the burglar.

If the Government is as serious about this issue as the issue itself is, they might want to step up their game and ask the right questions, rather than trying the deflect the narrative, as usual.

Disclaimer: I wouldn’t be surprised if the BJP spokesperson decides to blame Google Playstore and Phone manufacturers for giving you inbuilt WhatsApp on your phones, or maybe even you, the users, for using a “prone to hacking” social media platform.

– Darshan Mondkar

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