Amid the widespread Pegasus Controversy in the nation, a new name Alok Verma, former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chief surfaced. It is alleged that after the central government decided to oust Alok Verma, his numbers were added to the surveillance list in 2018.
Among the 16 media organizations around the world that are investigating the leaked database of numbers, the Indian news web portal the wire is one such website that is partnering with the French nonprofit Forbidden Stories and human Amnesty International.
According to The Wire’s report, Alok Verma and his family’s numbers were also included in the target list. Personal numbers of Alok’s wife, son-in-law, and daughter were on the leaked list.
The number of two senior CBI officials Rakesh Asthana and AK Sharma. were added. After Verma’s number was added to the list Rakesh Asthana was removed from the CBI, he is now the head of the Border Security Force (BSF). AK Sharma remained in the Central Bureau of Investigation till 2019.
The inclusion of numbers of these CBI officials was there for a very brief time, when Verma retired from his service and ceased to be important his and his family member’s numbers were taken down from the alleged list.
The Israeli firm NSO refuses its involvement in any such surveillance database leaked or with the spyware Pegasus Controversy. Verma refuses to participate in the whole matter and thus it cannot be conclusively established whether he was targeted or not.
Several hundred Indian numbers were investigated by The Wire from a leaked database that contains 50,000 numbers as potential targets of Pegasus spyware.
Some who agreed to do forensics had reported footprints of Pegasus spyware on their phones. Digital forensics conducted by Amnesty International confirmed the presence of Pegasus spyware on phones.