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Maharashtra to probe phone tapping by former BJP govt

The Maharashtra government on Monday set up a two-member committee to conduct a high-level probe into the allegations of phone tapping of various leaders by the erstwhile Bharatiya Janata Party-led government, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said here.
Maharashtra to probe phone tapping by former BJP govt

"A comprehensive inquiry will be conducted within six weeks by the two-member committee comprising Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Srikant Singh and Joint Commissioner of Police, Intelligence, Amitesh Kumar," said Deshmukh, 10 days after he first ordered the probe.

He said the Home Department had received many complaints from political parties and leaders about misuse of phone tapping by the previous government.

"This abuse of power violate the right to freedom and privacy as enshrined in the Constitution of India and is a national security threat," the minister added.

Last month, Deshmukh had said that the phones of senior leaders like Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena chief and now Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, to track with whom they were communicating, especially during the formation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.

The probe was ordered on January 23 after the allegations of phone-tapping were leveled but ex-Chief Minister and now Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis rubbished the charges.

"It is not in our culture to tap the phones of political opponents in the state. This is absolutely baseless. The (then) government had never issued any such orders," Fadnavis had said.

He alleged that the political credentials of the person who has lodged the complaint (senior Congressman Digvijaya Singh) is known to the whole country.

"Despite this, if the state government wants, it is free to investigate in any manner it deems fit. The truth must come out before the people. If required go to Israel and probe," Fadnavis said a day after Deshmukh ordered a probe.

Referring to senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh's revelations that a Maharashtra government official had gone to Israel for this purpose, Deshmukh said the probe will find out who was sent (to Israel) and whether it was official.

"Is the @OfficeofUT going to give details in public that who was behind snooping and tapping in Maharashtra. Who were the officers of Maharashtra Govt who went to Israel to talk to NSO the brain behind malware Pegasus," Singh had tweeted.

The issue has evoked sharp reactions from the three ruling MVA partners, Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress with several leaders and ministers, including Jayant Patil, Nawab Malik, Jitendra Awhad, Sachin Sawant, and others slamming the former BJP government for the alleged wire-tapping.

( With inputs from IANS )

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