Oppn Tears Into Modi Govt; Terms Order to Monitor Computer Unconstitutional

New Delhi: The Opposition on Friday tore into the Narendra Modi Government following Home Ministry’s order to monitor and intercept any computer, accusing the PM of resorting to dictatorship and transforming the nation into an “Orwellian state”.

The order triggered a storm in the political circle with Congress president Rahul Gandhi fearing the decision will convert India into a police state.

“It’s only going to prove to over 1 billion Indians, what an insecure dictator you really are,” the Congress president tweeted.

TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, a staunch critic of the Modi Government, wondered why the “commoners” are being targetted when the Central Government has the machinery to monitor information. She has sought a public opinion, describing the order “dangerous”.

The Home Ministry’s decision has come at a time when Parliament is in session, and political observers feel both the Houses could be witness to stormy sessions ahead. The opposition has already decided to put up a united fight and take on the Government on the issue.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley strongly objected to the Opposition attack during an intervention in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, ensuing a verbal duel between him and Leader of Opposition in the House Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Jaitley said, “This order was drafted and issued in 2009 when Anand Sharma was the minister. The same agencies were mentioned in that order as well. The December 20 order is a repetition of the 2009 order. The situation has changed and several new threats have emerged because of new technology. A fresh notification has been issued because of this.”

Opposition benches, however, remained unconvinced.

The controversial order has authorised 10 agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to intercept, monitor, and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer. Earlier, only the home ministry could scan calls and emails of people.

“For the first time, powers of scanning data at rest have been given to various agencies. Earlier, only data in motion could be intercepted. But now data revived, stored and generated can also be intercepted as powers of seizure have been given,” a senior bureaucrat explained to NDTV.

The order literally proves the expression correct that ‘ghar ghar Modi’, suggested AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi in his tweet.

“Modi has used a simple Government Order to permit our national agencies to snoop on our communications. Who knew that this is what they meant when they said ‘ghar ghar Modi’. George Orwell’s Big Brother is here & welcome to 1984,” he said.

Home Minister in the Manmohan Singh Government P Chidambaram was quoted by ANI as saying that “if anybody is going to monitor computers, then it is an Orwellian state.”

CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury joined the opposition attack, terming the move as unconstitutional.

“Why is every Indian being treated like a criminal? This order by a govt wanting to snoop on every citizen is unconstitutional and in breach of the telephone tapping guidelines, the Privacy Judgement and the Aadhaar judgement,” he tweeted.

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