India is becoming a surveillance State, claims Congress; Anand Sharma says Centre breaching privacy by seeking citizens' call records
Congress accused the government of seeking call data records of mobile users in Delhi and nine states, saying this was a breach of citizens' privacy and an attempt to 'convert India into a surveillance state'
New Delhi: The Congress on Thursday accused the government of seeking call data records of millions of mobile users in Delhi and nine states, saying this was a breach of citizens' privacy and an attempt to "convert India into a surveillance state".
Congress' senior spokesperson Anand Sharma, who is also the deputy leader of the party in Rajya Sabha, said the party MPs raised the matter, which is in clear violation of existing guidelines and rules, in the Upper House.
"This is a clear violation of the existing guidelines and rules, and also breaches the privacy of citizens concerned," he said.
"We are concerned that by these actions, India is being converted into a surveillance state. What has happened and what continues to happen, is illegal and in violation of law," he added.
Sharma said in 2013 when call data records issue of then leader of opposition Arun Jaitley came up, the then government issued very firm guidelines that those records can only be sought in specific cases on an order from the home secretary and also by superintendents of police, following the order that law enforcement agencies can use it and the cellular operators will make it available to them.
However, they have to inform each specific case to the district magistrates concerned, he said.
"Therefore, we have demanded that all these orders of the home secretary, which has authorised the government to do so, the telecom department and the orders of the district magistrates, which have been taken by the superintendents of police, should be placed in the House," the Congress leader said.
"We are not satisfied with the answer given. What the minister has said actually is in violation of the guideline and the law, when it concerns to Indian citizen's privacy, as laid down by the Supreme Court also," Sharma said.
Accused Anwaruddin, who runs a motor shop in the area, has previously been involved in 10 criminal cases, including three related to riots
The announcement comes amid widespread protests against the recently unveiled 'Agnipath' scheme for recruitment of soldiers in the armed forces on a short-term contractual basis. The soldiers recruited under this scheme will be called 'Agniveers'
Congress leaders and supporters criticised the BJP-led central government and said that the Agnipath scheme is not beneficial for the country's youth