New Delhi: The snooping of a woman allegedly at the behest of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was not confined to Gujarat but extended to Karnataka as well, according to an investigative portal, contradicting the claims of the BJP government.
The portal, gulail.com, has released a set of fresh 39 tapes, which contained purported conversation between between two senior Gujarat police officials, G.L. Singhal and A.K. Sharma, about the spying on the woman.
The website released videos under the title 'Saheb tapes' and stated that the woman's would-be husband, parents, brothers and friends were under surveillance too.
"Gujarat intelligence and anti-terrorist squad officers stalked and snooped on Madhuri beyond the boundaries of the state," the fresh post on the website says.
The website also explains why: 'A Saheb in Gujarat was interested in knowing the details of her love life', obviously referring to Narendra Modi.
The website, which along with another portal Cobrapost.com had first exposed the matter, said Gujarat police had in 2009 contacted its Karnataka counterpart during the Chief Ministership of B.S. Yedyurrapa for intercepting the telephone of the particular woman in Bangalore where she lived.
The Karnataka government, however, turned down the request, saying due procedures were not followed and that 'the order had been signed by a junior officer who was not even authorised to issue phone-tapping instructions'.
According to the claims by the websites, the snooping was being undertaken at the behest of 'saheb', an apparent reference to Modi.
The portal claimed it was also clear from these tapes that the focus of the surveillance was the woman's 'personal conversations and intimate meetings with her future husband'.
"They were both closely observed. In these tapes, her love-life is the most important matter of discussion between Sharma and Singhal. Both also made plans to photograph her would-be husband as cops tailed the couple wherever they went: restaurants, ice cream parlours...," it said.
It claimed Gujarat police routinely sent interception authorisations signed by an under-secretary level officer of the state’s Home Department to telecom service providers in Gujarat who almost always acceded to the request even though law required that the request came from the secretary.
Gulail said it was clear that Gujarat government 'violated' all laws and rules to intrude into the privacy of a citizen who posed no threat to anyone. Nor was there any perceived threat to her, it said.
"This surveillance was not about her personal safefty. Nor was it about our national security. She was stalked because the ‘Saheb’ was obsessed with her – and her love life," it said.
In some of the tapes, the then state Home Minister and Modi's close aide Amit Shah is purportedly heard referring to 'saheb' repeatedly.
"The Gujarat police not only circumvented the process for tapping of phones, some junior officers of the state home department directly ordered the telecom companies to carry out illegal surveillance," the website has claimed.
It said the move was in clear violation of Indian Telegraph Rule 419 (A) and the Gujarat Government’s own notification (dated 29th March 1997), which clearly state that a phone can be tapped only with the written authorisation of the Union Home Secretary or state Home Secretary.
The new tapes contradict the claims made by Gujarat government that the woman was merely being 'provided security' during her visits to Gujarat at the request of her father.
The new tapes, the website claimed, establish the woman's surveillance which involved massive use of state machinery and was mounted not to protect her as claimed by the state government but to 'stalk her and pry into her private life'.
"Just like in the first batch of tapes, here too all the persons involved in this illegal operation, from Singhal to Sharma to Amit Shah, were passing on the information gathered to a superior authority who is repeatedly referred to as the ‘saheb’," it said.
When this 'illegal surveillance' was launched, the woman was living in Bangalore and visited her friends and family in Gujarat every now and then.
"Her Bangalore numbers, it emerges from the tapes, were intercepted by the Gujarat police to get details about her personal life in the city," it said.
BJP, however, said this is a handiwork of the 'dirty tricks department' of Congress which is using its 'paid institutions' to target Modi as it has so far failed to match up to him and his good governance model.
BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said, "After the defeat of Congress in four states, it was hoped that better sense would prevail on them. But unfortunately, they have resorted to their dirty tricks again. People will not believe in these things any more.
"Congress cannot match up to Modi and his model of good governance. Hence, it is indulging in such conspiracies by sometimes using CBI or through NGOs or its paid institutions to tarnish Modi's image," he added.
Javadekar said it is a reflection of Congress mood in the face of a 'near-certain' defeat. "Their sole motive is to stop Modi," he said.
The two websites had on November 15 first released 257 recorded telephonic conversations purportedly between Shah and Singhal, claiming Gujarat government had in 2009 misused its powers to illegally intercept the phones of the woman.
BJP had earlier claimed that the surveillance was put in place to ensure security of the woman as requested by her father. The website had also released a picture of Modi conversing with the woman earlier.