Over 1,000 phones tapped during BJP rule in Himachal

Shimla: Another report into illegal phone tapping, allegedly by the previous BJP government in Himachal Pradesh, Friday said 350 telephone calls, mostly of politicians and bureaucrats, were recorded.

The total number of phones tapped, mainly of Congress leaders, in violation of the Indian Telegraph Act has now risen to over 1,000, said officials.

The report, the second and the last, prepared by the state forensic science laboratory was submitted to the Chief Minister’s Office here.

Confirming the development, Chief Secretary Sudipto Roy told reporters that the report comprised of 350 conversations recorded by the vigilance and anti-corruption bureau during different periods.

Last month, the lab revealed that officials of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) had put 789 telephones under surveillance.

Official sources said out of 789 phones, permission was granted by the home department only in 34 cases.

The laboratory analysed the data retrieved from hard discs of computers seized from the CID and vigilance bureau headquarters.

Sources said that in the first report, most of the conversations were of Congress leaders while they were in the opposition.

“The latest report has tapped most of the phones of top government officials,” an official said.

The conversations of some BJP dissidents and journalists also figured.

Director General of Police I.D. Bhandari, who was heading the CID when the illegal phone tapping took place, was removed from the post last month.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has said former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal could not absolve himself of the blame.

“The privacy of certain political leaders was infringed upon. The number of phones tapped clearly indicated malafide intention of the then government,” Virbhadra Singh said.

Clarifying his position, Dhumal said permission for tapping the phones was given by the home department, and the chief minister’s office had nothing to do with it.

The computers in the CID and vigilance bureau offices were seized Dec 26 last year, a day after Virbhadra Singh assumed charge as chief minister.


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