Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Illegal surveillance by Modi government: Four years before Amit Shah ‘snooping,’ officer raised red flag on ‘shocking tapping’

A senior IPS Officer said that phone-tapping was rampant in Gujarat

Four years before the Gujarat Police put a woman under illegal surveillance allegedly on the orders of Amit Shah,a senior IPS officer had put on record that “telephone tapping” was rampant in the state — and was being done by even “police inspectors and police sub-inspectors”. In a letter dated April 21, 2005, Rajnish Kumar Rai, the then deputy commissioner (intelligence) posted in Surat, referred to a letter written on July 13, 2004 by the then additional director general (Intelligence), J Mohapatra, to the state home department, seeking complete details of telephone intercepts from six service providers.
Referring to Mohapatra’s letter, Rai noted: “In the said letter,in the recent past units like Anti-Terrorist Squad; Crime Branch, Ahmedabad; DCP, Zone-11, Ahmedabad; SP, Valsad; SP, Vadodara (Rural), etc. have resorted to telephone interception in flagrant disregard to rules/guidelines/provisions. It is shocking to know that officers of the rank of police inspectors and police sub-inspectors have also resorted to telephone tapping…” Rai,who had been tasked with drafting a code for telephone interception for the state police,sent the letter along with the proposed code to the Gujarat director-general of police.
The letter mentioned various rules and guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court and the central Department of Telecommunications,which he said were being violated in Gujarat.
“Of late, there have been controversies and allegations of illegal telephone interception of political functionaries by the government. To avoid such controversies and allegations in future and to ensure that the power of telephone interception is not exercised in an arbitrary, freakish or bizarre manner,it is felt that we must codify the practice of interception of communication in detail,” Rai wrote. 
Rai, a 1992-batch IPS officer who was transferred from his original Orissa cadre to Gujarat,had infuriated the Narendra Modi government by arresting IPS officers D G Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandian and Dinesh MN in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case in April 2007. Rai was pulled out of the encounter investigations,and subsequently,in 2010,he went on a three-year sabbatical. In between, he was accused of cheating in a law exam that he took at Gujarat University, a case that he termed as “motivated propaganda”. After he was declared failed, Rai moved the Gujarat High Court, which allowed him to appear for two semester exams simultaneously in 2009.
Rai is now DIG (Armed Units) in Rajkot. He is currently on medical leave, and could not be reached for comment. Two news portals, Cobrapost and Gulail,last month released recordings and transcripts of alleged telephone conversations from August 2009,in which the then Gujarat minister of state for home,Amit Shah,a close aide of Narendra Modi ,is heard purportedly discussing the surveillance of a woman with IPS officer G L Singhal.
ENS adds from Ahmedabad: TV channel NewsX on Tuesday telecast what appeared to be a sting operation in which former Gujarat intelligence chief J Mohapatra purportedly admits to having ordered surveillance on Sanjay Joshi, then a senior BJP leader and a political rival of Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Mohapatra is heard purportedly suggesting that there was nothing wrong even if Joshi was snooped upon. He is heard purportedly saying,“Who will probe? The Supreme Court?…Till today there is not even a memorandum against me…” Later, Mohapatra told The Indian Express,“ I don’t remember whether it (the snooping on Joshi) was done or not. If someone has procured an official copy (on the snooping) which should have been a secret document, isn'’t that snooping? If I had ordered a watch on Sanjay Joshi then everything was done in purview of rules and regulations of government. At no point I had gone beyond the laws to snoop on anyone. As intel chief it was necessary to know what was going on and there was no other means for that besides snooping.”
see also

Amulya Ganguli - Why an inquiry ... If, on top of all this, the Snoopgate or Stalkgate probe exposes unsavoury details, the BJP and its prime ministerial aspirant will be in deep trouble. It is worth recalling that the Modi government's record in the matter of setting