ULFA, AASU leaders from Assam in snoop list
ULFA, AASU leaders from Assam in snoop list

Photo Credit: IANS


New Delhi, July 21 (IANS) Two prominent political personalities from Assam -- Samujjal Bhattacharya from AASU and Anup Chetia from the pro-talks faction of ULFA -- figure in the leaked list of potential spyware targets, as does a Manipuri writer, The Wire reported.

Tucked away in the leaked list of thousands of phone numbers that were analysed by Pegasus Project partners, is one that belongs to Bhattacharya.

The Wire's examination of this list -- most numbers in which are clustered in countries that experts say have had active Pegasus operations in the past, and some of which were found to have been targeted by Pegasus through forensic analysis -- revealed that one number belonged to Bhattacharya.

The Wire reported that his number was added to the list less than a month before the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announcement of the new Clause Six Committee.

On July 16, 2019, the MHA had announced the reconstitution of a ‘high level committee' to implement Clause 6, a salient section of the Assam Accord.

Among the new members was Bhattacharya, advisor to the All Assam Students Union (AASU), a signatory to the Accord with the Union government in 1985, which was meant to put an end to the anti-foreigner agitation that the powerful student body had spearheaded.

The Wire said one reason the MHA reformulated the Clause Six Committee in July 2019 was because the earlier committee members had refused to be part of the exercise.

The reconstitution must have been done also because the Narendra Modi government had felt pressure from certain quarters to not ignore the AASU in the matter.

Another person whose phone number is in the leaked database is the pro-talks United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) leader Anup Chetia. One of his two phone numbers was selected as a possible candidate for surveillance in late 2018, The Wire said.

It is not yet known why he could attract the attention of a possible Pegasus operator. Chetia, who took active part in the ULFA's peace talks with the MHA as the general secretary of the ULFA (Progressive), had, along with other members, in May 2018 demanded the scrapping of the Citizenship Amendment Bill -- a precursor to the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act passed in December 2019 -- and had threatened to walk out of the negotiations if the law was not dropped for Assam.

Yet another phone number found in the leaked data is that of a Delhi-based writer from Manipur, Malem Ningthouja.



Update: 21-July-2021