|File photo of Modi with the woman architect (Pic: Gulail.com)|
Thursday, December 26, 2013
India to probe Gujarat snooping scandal
NEW DELHI (AA) - Congress-led federal government on Thursday approved a commission of enquiry to investigate the alleged snooping of a young woman architect by Gujarat police under directions from then home minister Amit Shah, a close aide of Narendra Modi, Gujarat chief minister and BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014 general election.
The federal cabinet’s approval of the probe came after several women’s organizations met President Pranab Mukherjee and protested against the stalking of the woman allegedly ordered by Shah on the directions or a “saheb” or “big boss”, an apparent reference to Modi as alleged by Congress. Mukherjee forwarded the petition to the federal home ministry which on Thursday approved to constitute a commission of enquiry to investigate the snooping charge.
The federal government’s decision to order enquiry has been bitterly criticized by the BJP, India’s main opposition party, which has already declared Modi as its prime ministerial candidate.
“The commission is legally suspect and will be challenged in court,” senior lawyer and BJP leader Arun Jaitely wrote on his Twitter page saying the move violates the federal structure of the Indian Constitution. Jaitely alleged that the action is “politically motivated”.
“The Congress Party has not learnt from the drubbing it got in the elections recently. It has continued with its strategy of fighting Narendra Modi not politically but through investigative agencies and now through a Commission of Inquiry,” Jaitely alleged.
BJP President Rajnath Singh said the government’s decision to order fresh commission of enquiry is an attempt to tarnish Gujarat’s image.
Earlier, the Gujarat government said that a retired judge would probe the allegations that laws were violated by the state police officials.Congress leader Digvijaya Singh welcomed the move saying the enquiry should have been ordered long time ago. “This should have happened long time ago. It is a clear violation of Indian Telegraph Act and IT (Information Technology) Act. Someone must be held responsible. I hope the panel gives the report at the earliest,” Singh wrote on Twitter.
Madhusudan Mistry, another Congress leader questioned the reason for snooping of the young architect woman. “Was she a terrorist? Was she a threat to Modi? All these questions need to be answered,” Mistry said.
The federal government said that the committee will be headed by a former Supreme Court judge and it will investigate “physical and electronic surveillance” in Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi. It will also probe the alleged snooping into the call records of Arun Jaitely, which is being interpreted as a move to assuage the BJP’s criticism of the Gujarat stalking probe.
The Gujarat snooping scandal came to light on November 15 when two investigative portals CobraPost and Gulail released secretly-recorded phone conversations between GL Singhal, a former senior police officer in Gujarat and Amit Shah, the then home minister.
The conversations allegedly establish that in 2009 the young architect woman was tailed for nearly two months at the instructions of Amit Shah’s “saheb” or “big boss”. The two portals maintain that “saheb” is none other than Modi himself.
The taped conversations allegedly reveal that “saheb” was keen to know every private movement of the architect woman including to whom she wanted to marry.
BJP has not denied the accusations of the snooping claiming that the woman was kept under surveillance on the instructions of her father who was known to Modi.On Tuesday, the snooping controversy was revived when gulail.com, the investigative portal, claimed that it had accessed more conversations that prove the woman was spied by Gujarat police officials even she was in Bangalore in Karnataka state.