New Delhi. Congress President Rahul Gandhi today targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over a Home Ministry order that gives sweeping powers to investigating agencies to monitor data on computers, and called him an “insecure dictator” who is trying to turn India into a “police state”.
The government has been panned by the opposition for the order, which gives ten central agencies powers to “intercept, monitor and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer”. The order was signed by Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba.
“Converting India into a police state isn’t going to solve your problems, Modi Ji. It’s only going to prove to over 1 billion Indians what an insecure dictator you really are,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
The new order will empower the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, CBI, National Investigation Agency, Cabinet Secretariat (Research and Analysis Wing), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (in Jammu and Kashmir, North-East and Assam only) and the Delhi Police Commissioner to analyse private data. It also states that the subscriber, service provider or any person in charge of the computer resource is bound to extend all facilities and technical help to the agencies if they ask for data. If not, they can face seven years in jail and a fine.
The Congress raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha, accusing the government of making the country a surveillance state. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley responded by saying that the Congress was playing with the country’s security, and maintained that the order was a repeat of an order issued by the UPA government less than a decade ago. “On December 20, the same order of authorisation was repeated that was existing since 2009,” Mr Jaitley said.
When Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad pointed out that “national security was not mentioned anywhere in the order”, Mr Jaitley said: “It (national security) is mentioned in section 69. And you are playing with the security of the country. That is what you have done just now.”