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Allegations of surveillance on specific people has no concrete basis or truth: Govt

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India is a robust democracy that is committed to ensuring the right to privacy to all its citizens as a fundamental right, said Additional Secretary, Electronics and Information Technology, Rajender Kumar

New Delhi, July 19. Amid reports of snooping of prominent citizens, the Indian government said that allegations of surveillance on specific people has no concrete basis or truth associated with it whatsoever.

Meanwhile, reacting to the alleged snooping, senior journalist Nupur J Sharma wrote, “This is the summary of the “expose”. There is no evidence. But we think there is. So believe us, you bloody heathens.”

In response to journalists’ queries on snooping of prominent citizens, Additional Secretary, Electronics and Information Technology, Rajender Kumar said: “India is a robust democracy that is committed to ensuring the right to privacy to all its citizens as a fundamental right. In furtherance of this commitment, it has also introduced the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 and the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, to protect the personal data of individuals and to empower users of social media platforms.”

“The commitment to free speech as a fundamental right is the cornerstone of India’s democratic system. We have always strived to attain an informed citizenry with an emphasis on a culture of open dialogue.

“Government of India’s response to a Right to Information application about the use of Pegasus has been prominently reported by the media and is in itself sufficient to counter any malicious claims about the alleged association between the Government of India and Pegasus,” he added.

He stated that the questionnaire sent to the Government of India indicates that “the story being crafted is one that is not only bereft of facts but also founded in preconceived conclusions”.

“It seems you are trying to play the role of an investigator, prosecutor as well as jury,” he wrote.

He pointed out that answers to the queries posed have already been in public domain for a long time, and it also indicates poorly conducted research and lack of due diligence by the media organisations involved.

He held that in India there is a well-established procedure through which lawful interception of electronic communication is carried out in order for the purpose of national security, particularly on the occurrence of any public emergency or in the interest of public safety, by agencies at the Centre and states.

“The requests for these lawful interception of electronic communication are made as per relevant rules under the provisions of Section 5(2) of Indian Telegraph Act ,1885 and Section 69 of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2000,” the official said.

He mentioned that India’s Minister of Electronics & IT has also spoken in detail, including in the Parliament, that there has been no unauthorised interception by Government agencies.

“It is important to note that government agencies have a well-established protocol for interception, which includes sanction and supervision from highly ranked officials in Central and state governments, for clear stated reasons only in national interest. The allegations regarding government surveillance on specific people has no concrete basis or truth associated with it whatsoever,” he said.

He further mentioned that in the past, similar claims were made regarding the use of Pegasus on WhatsApp by the Indian state and those reports also had no factual basis and were categorically denied by all parties, including WhatsApp in the Indian Supreme Court.

“This news report, thus, also appears to be a similar fishing expedition, based on conjectures and exaggerations to malign the Indian democracy and its institutions,” he said.

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Maharashtra government tells HC, Param Bir Singh non-traceable

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Call me “Dada”, not “Sir”, Tripura CM Biplab Kumar Deb to employees

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Agartala: In what appears to be a step to boost the morale of the government employees, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Sunday asked the government employees to call him “Dada” instead of “Sir”. “Call me Dada, not sir. It enhances the warmth of the relationship”, Deb told a gathering of government employees.

Deb exhorted the government employees of the state especially ASHA and Anganwadi workers of the state asking them not to dishearten as the state government was eager to improve their pay structure.

“I salute the ASHA and Anganwadi workers of my state. The level of dedication that my sisters have shown during the pandemic period deserved applause. I know, they want to hear good news from me and I am assuring you all that this government will not disappoint anyone”, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb told a gathering of government employees at Badharghat sports school field organized by Vivekananda Vicha Manch (VVM).

VVM has emerged as a big platform of government employees, of late, and Sunday’s public rally was its first big gathering to thank the Chief Minister for the series of steps his government took for the welfare of the employees.

“I know what challenges you people are facing. Nothing is hidden in front of me. I am assuring you all everything will be taken care of in the due course of time”, he added.  Lauding the efforts of government employees Deb said, without them no government office can function.

“Due to the efforts of government employees, people can access the benefits of the state sponsored welfare schemes. But, for a prolonged period the employees did not get their right to do something freely. They were trapped in the clutches of unions. In the previous regime, Left sponsored unions used to enjoy supreme power which had reduced the whole work culture of the state to tatters. In 2018, you people showed courage and voted BJP to power”, said Deb.

“Despite fund constraints, the state government is positively working on the issues of DA and other factors pertaining to the interest of the government employees. Our government has already addressed a number of issues related to financial benefits. The ad-hoc promotion, increment for Group D, Group C employees, regularization of SSA teachers, seventh pay scale, UGC scale for professors, special benefit for LTC are to name a few. All these indicate what we want to do and we shall do what we promise”, the Chief Minister said.

The Chief Minister also asked the officials not to call him “sir” suggesting them to refer to him as “Dada” as it makes the relationship stronger and cherished. The Chief Minister also distributed clothes among children of Badharghat sports school during the programme. State BJP President Manik Saha, Minister Ram Prasad Paul, Minister Sushanta Chowdhury, MLA Mimi Majumder, state BJP Vice President and president of Vivekananda Vichar Manch Rajib Bhattacharjee also spoke on the occasion.

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