Mamata Banerjee attacks Centre over Pegasus spyware, terms I-T raids on Dainik Bhaskar ‘brutal attempt to stifle democracy’

New Delhi: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday (July 22) claimed that the snooping on Supreme Court judges, journalists and political leaders among others using the Pegasus spyware, news of which broke earlier this week, was ‘worse than the Watergate scandal’ which broke in the US during the NIxon presidency. 

Mamata likened the scandal which allegedly involved using a spyware developed by a Israeli firm to infect the mobile phones of hundreds of Indians in a bid to spy on them to the imposition of a ‘super-emergency in the country’. 

CM Mamata claimed that all impartial institutions have been politicised by the BJP-led government. “Pegasus is worse than Watergate scandal; it is super emergency,” she told a press conference at the state secretariat here. 

“They (BJP leadership) don’t trust even their own officers and ministers,” she said, adding “I have heard they tapped the phones of several RSS people” . 

Mamata also took umbrage at the Income Tax raids against media group Dainik Bhaskar for alleged tax evasion, terming the act as a “brutal attempt” to stifle democracy and suppress voices that bring out the truth. She said the raids were the fallout of reporting about the “mishandling” of the COVID-19 situation in the country. “The attack on journalists and media houses is yet another BRUTAL attempt to stifle democracy. #DainikBhaskar bravely reported the way @narendramodi ji mishandled the entire #COVID crisis and led the country to its most horrifying days amid a raging pandemic,” she tweeted.

“I strongly condemn this vindictive act that aims to suppress voices that bring out the TRUTH. It’s a grave violation that undermines the very principles of democracy. Urging everyone in the Media to stay strong. Together we shall never let the autocratic forces succeed!” the Trinamool Congress supremo added.

The Income Tax Department on Thursday also conducted raids against Uttar Pradesh-based Hindi news channel Bharat Samachar on charges of tax evasion, official sources said. 

The searches in case of Dainik Bhaskar, which brings out newspaper editions in Hindi and Gujarati, are being conducted in Bhopal, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Noida and some other locations in the country.

Mamata recently managed to win a high voltage electoral battle to elect the state legislature after a bitter campaign where she was pitted against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

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