Anup Chetia, Samujjal Bhattacharjee, and Manipuri writer Malem Ningthouja are among the names that appear in the Pegasus list. But before we probe into these names that have appeared, let’s understand what is known about Pegasus so far.
The France-based media non-profit organization Forbidden Stories claimed to have got access to 50,000 numbers, which is now been referred to as the Pegasus Project. Various media organizations have since identified around 1500 of its numbers originating from across 10 countries. The Wire and 16 other media organizations have been revealing names from this list. These are names of people who are persons of interest or forensically identified by clients of NSO Group’s Pegasus software. Among the names appearing in the list are heads of state, political figures, activists, students, lawyers, and journalists. These are the types of people that any pro-surveillance regime might want to keep an eye on.
Since the Israeli company NSO says that the advanced spyware is made available to “vetted governments” only, one can assume that these individuals were being snooped by governments or military agencies.
Samujjal Bhattacharjee’s number was added to the list less than a month before the MHA announced the new Clause Six committee in July 2019. It is yet to be known why Bhattacharjee may have been included in the list, but the fact he is included before the announcement of the new Clause Six Committee by the Narendra Modi-led BJP Government gives some insight into the matter.
Anup Chetia’s phone number was also found to be under surveillance from late 2018 to mid-2019. Notably, Chetia visited Tinsukia in Nov 2018 after the killing of five Bengali Hindus. Around this time he spoke vociferously against CAA (then CAB) and even threatened to walk out of peace negotiations.
Another on the list Malem Ningthouja expressed his words— “I have had no scientific proof so far. I am a writer, have written three books, am a part of an academic journal. Every day in my work life I meet new people from different professions. Many people from different professions come to me even the government officials for my opinions on various issues.” Ningthouja might have the selection as a possible candidate for surveillance primarily happened in mid-2019, according to the leaked data.