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Innocent Admission

Kejriwal’s aide, top ED officer, PMO, NITI Aayog officials in Pegasus list

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New Delhi, July 26, 2021- Rajeshwar Singh, a senior Enforcement Directorate officer who led several high-profile investigations conducted by his agency, was selected as a probable target for surveillance by an Indian client of the Israeli spyware firm NSO Group, an investigation of leaked data by The Wire and its media partners on the Pegasus Project has revealed.

The database accessed by French non-profit Forbidden Stories and shared with the project’s media consortium, included not only two of Singh’s numbers but four numbers belonging to three women from his family, implying they too were likely targets.

V.K. Jain, a former Indian Administrative Service officer who worked as a personal assistant to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, also appears to have marked as a person of interest. In addition, the leaked records contain details of the numbers of at least one official each from the PMO and NITI Aayog, The Wire said.

Singh, a provincial police service officer (PPS) from Uttar Pradesh, has been with the ED since 2009, during which he had served on the investigation of several sensitive cases such as the 2G spectrum scam and the Aircel-Maxis matter. He has also been involved in the probes into the Sahara group and the disproportionate assets case of Andhra chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy.

His run in the database stretches from late 2017 to mid-2019, which is around the time when the leaked data itself tapers off. His second number appears to have been of interest from the spring of 2018 onward. This is also when two numbers registered to his wife are added, as are the numbers of his two sisters, one of whom, Abha Singh, is an Indian Administrative Service officer-turned-lawyer based in Mumbai.

The Pegasus Project list also includes the phone number used by V.K. Jain, who was appointed as chief consultant at Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s office.

Jain’s phone number appears in the leaked records in 2018, when, according to sources in the Delhi government, he handled the most significant files of the state government. As Kejriwal’s primary aide during his first full term, Jain is closely tied to implementation of the chief minister’s most prized welfare programmes like improving school education and health infrastructure in the city-state.

Significantly, his phone number appears in the records soon after he was questioned by the Delhi Police in connection with the alleged assault on Delhi chief secretary Anshu Prakash by two Aam Aadmi Party legislators in February 2018. The incident occurred during a meeting between AAP leaders and Prakash over the issue of ‘Door Step Delivery of Ration’ and the slow processing of files. While Prakash registered an FIR over the alleged assault, the AAP legislators denied the charge, The Wire said.

The leaked records indicate that the telephone number of a senior employee of the NITI Aayog – the Union government’s policy think-tank – was also included as a probable target for surveillance. The Wire verified the number and spoke to the person involved but is withholding their identity at their request as they are no longer working at the government body.

An officer who is currently an under secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office was also selected for potential surveillance in 2017, the leaked records show. He was in charge of Prime Minister Modi’s tours in 2017 when the Indian client of the NSO Group showed interest in him, The Wire said.  (Agency)

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