A new list of numbers that were potential targets of Pegasus, according to The Wire, includes four members of NSCN-IM in Nagaland, one convenor of Naga National Political Groups, an AASU leader who is member of the committee to implement clause 6 of the Assam Accord, a pro-talks ULFA leader and a Delhi-based writer from Manipur.
All Assam Students Union (AASU) chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharjee and pro-talk ULFA leader Anup Chetia were among the people allegedly targeted for surveillance by Pegasus spyware, The Wire reported.
One mobile phone number that was being used by Bhattacharjee and figured among 300 verified Indian numbers that were listed as potential targets of Israeli surveillance technology vendor NSO Group. Apart from the AASU leader, pro-talk ULFA leader, Anup Chetia’s mobile phone number was also on the list, the report said. One of his two phone numbers was selected as a possible candidate for surveillance in late 2018.
“Tucked away in the leaked list of thousands of phone numbers that were analyzed by Pegasus Project partners, is one that belongs to Bhattacharjee,” The Wire reported.
The AASU adviser’s number was added to the list less than a month before the Union Home Ministry’s announcement of the new Clause Six committee. On July 16, 2019, the Home Ministry announced the reconstitution of a ‘high-level committee to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.
The committee was formed with retired Gauhati High Court Justice Biplab Kumar Sarma as chairman and AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharjee as one of the members of the committee.
Chetia, who took an active part in the ULFA’s peace talks with the Centre, had, in May 2018, demanded the scrapping of Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) passed in December 2019 – and had threatened to walk out of the negotiations if the law was not dropped for Assam.
The numbers from Nagaland include those of Atem Vashum, NCSN-IM leader, and possible successor to T Muivah, chairman of the group, Apam Muivah, also of the IM, and the chairman’s nephew, Anthony Shimray, commander in chief of the Naga army of NSCN IM, and Phungthing Simrang, former commander-in-chief.
The portal also reported the numbers of Kitovi Zhimomi, convenor of NNPGs, and Malem Ningthouja, the writer from Manipur.
The NSCN (IM) as well as NNPGs have been attempting to thrash out an agreement with parleys from both sides on a final settlement of the Naga accord, years after an agreement framework for peace between the government and NSCN IM was signed in August 2015. “The numbers present on the leaked list were added from mid-2017 onwards…,” The Wire reported.