It’s no longer an internal matter of Gujarat.
Some 39 new tapes reveal how a ‘Saheb’ of Gujarat used state machinery and violated all phone tapping related laws to stalk an unsuspecting woman in cities across the country.
BJP’s web of lies exposed:
Lie No 1: The elaborate surveillance was mounted to provide ‘discreet security’ to Madhuri.
Truth: A Saheb in Gujarat wanted to know about Madhuri’s love life. The police secretly observed Madhuri’s meetings with a man she was about to marry, eavesdropped on her private conversations and then relayed the information back to Saheb.
Lie No 2: The issues raised in Snoopgate are strictly a State subject.
Truth: Snoopgate involved multiple states. Both phones within and outside Gujarat were intercepted. There was correspondence between Modi’s Government and Y S Yedyurrapa’s Karnataka government over Madhuri’s cell numbers. Her Bangalore Cell phones were also intercepted.
Lie No 3: The two member State appointed Commission is competent to inquire into all the issues arising out of Snoopgate.
Truth: The Commission has no jurisdiction outside Gujarat. The Terms of Reference are based on malafide presumptions. The Commission has been mandated to inquire into ‘conspiracy’ behind the leaks and ‘the objective considerations while arranging discreet security to a woman’.
Lie No 4: The phone tapping was done as per the due process.
Truth: Lower level officers in the State Home Department were made to send illegal phone tapping authorizations. On one occasion the Karnataka Government turned down the request citing non-compliance of the requirement of the Indian Telegraph Act.
Lie No 5: Madhuri had agreed to the intrusive surveillance.
Truth: Madhuri had no clue that she was being tailed, her phone conversations were being tapped and her dates were subjected to an intrusive scrutiny by top police officers.
Lie No 6: Madhuri had a security threat.
Truth: Madhuri went out for dinners with her would-be husband, drove around the city alone in a car and travelled alone late into the night without any fear or inhibitions.
Lie No 7: The Gujarat police was providing Madhuri a security cover.
Truth: There was no communication between Madhuri and the police. They scoured through flight passenger lists to figure out her arrival time in Ahmedabad, tailed her when she took an auto from the airport and by following her found out the hotel she was staying at.
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The carefully spun web of lies is coming apart. The stories manufactured by the BJP spin-doctors to defend their prime ministerial candidate from the fallout of the Snoopgate are falling flat. Now, there is a new twist in this sordid tale of an innocent young woman being stalked like a criminal or a terrorist by the anti-terrorist squad and intelligence machinery of Gujarat state government.
A new set of audio tapes unravels the brazen lies told by the BJP to defend its leaders and government in Gujarat. These tapes are in exclusive possession of Gulail and are not part of the 267 tapes that were seized from GL Singhal by the CBI in June.
On November 15, Gulail and CobraPost had exposed how the young woman was being stalked by the Gujarat Police. To protect the identity of this unsuspecting victim of round-the-clock illegal surveillance by top cops of Gujarat’s anti-terrorist squad (ATS), who were being directed by then state home minister Amit Shah, we called her ‘Madhuri’.
Now, Gulail is revealing that Madhuri, a Bangalore-based architect, was surveilled by the Gujarat police beyond the
boundaries of the state. Gulail has obtained 39 new audio tapes of telephone conversations which reveal that the Gujarat Home Department had contacted the Karnataka government in 2009 and sought authorization to intercept the cellphone of Madhuri in whose private life – her movements and relationships – a Saheb was taking great personal interest. Both Mahduri’s family and BJP leadership have admitted that the Saheb in question was Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi .
This completely demolishes the claims made by top BJP leaders that Madhuri was being “provided security” during her visits to Gujarat at the request of her father. The new revelations also make irrelevant the commission set up by Gujarat government to look into the allegations as it was an inter-state police operation, with phones both from within and outside Gujarat being illegally tapped in two different states.
These 39 tapes contain phone conversations between two IPS officers, GL Singhal, who is now a prime accused in the staged-managed killings of Ishrat Jahan, and AK Sharma, then IG of the State Intelligence Bureau.
While the first batch of tapes, revealed by Gulail last month, showed that Madhuri was stalked by the Gujarat police during her visits to the state, the new tapes expose that this surveillance went beyond Gujarat. In 2009, when
Y S Yedyurrapa was the Chief Minister of the BJP government in Karnataka, the Gujarat police contacted their Karnataka counterparts, asking them to help in illegal tapping of Madhuri’s cellphone.
A shocking picture emerges from the new tapes. 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. This was done 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 authorization of the Union Home Secretary or State Home Secretary.
But in their pursuit of Madhuri, the Gujarat cops were in no mood to follow any rules or laws. At least in once instance, the Karnataka government turned down the Gujarat government’s request on the grounds that the due procedure was not being followed and that the order had been signed by a junior officer who was not even authorized to issue phone-tapping instructions.
The new tapes also establish it beyond doubt that the surveillance, which involved massive use of state machinery, was mounted not to protect Madhuri 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’.
The new tapes also prove beyond all reasonable doubt that Madhuri’s phones were not being tapped in public interest or for public safety. On the contrary, the information obtained was all about Madhuri’s private life, and it was then relayed to ‘Saheb’. It was just not Madhuri, but her would-be husband, whom she was dating at the time, her friends, brother and parents were all kept under a close watch through physical and telephonic surveillance, which went on for at least two months, if not more.
When this illegal surveillance was launched, Madhuri 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. The conversations between Singhal and Sharma reveal that an under-secretary from the Gujarat Home Department wrote to the Home Department of Karnataka, asking it to put Madhuri’s Bangalore cellphone number under surveillance. But the then Karnataka Home Secretary turned down the request. In one of the tapes, Sharma can be heard telling Singhal that the Karnataka Home Secretary demanded authorization from the Gujarat Home Secretary and asked for it to be delivered in person by a Gujarat police officer.
According to Rule 419 (A) of the Indian Telegraph Act, directions for phone interception can be issued only by the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, in the case of Government of India, and by the Secretary, Home Department, in the case of a state government. In emergency cases, such order may be made by an officer not below the rank of a Joint Secretary to the Government of India, who has been duly authorized by the Union Home Secretary or the State Home Secretary, as the case may be. All such orders are supposed to contain valid reasons for such direction.
But, in complete violation of these rules, the taped conversations show that the interception request was generated by Sharma, the former IG of intelligence. What further confirms the illegal nature of the phone tapping operation is the fact that Sharma, instead of complying with the due procedure as demanded by the Karnataka Home Department, dropped the idea of tapping Madhuri’s Bangalore cellphone.
The other shocking part of this disturbing story is the involvement of private telecom operators in the illegal surveillance. Gulail’s investigation shows that to intercept a phone for the first seven days, the Gujarat police wrote directly to the telecom service providers, without routing it through the Home Department. The requests for phone interception were often sent by an under-secretary level officer and requests for Call Data Records were sent by as junior an officer as a sub-inspector. The conversations between Singhal and Sharma also show that senior officials of telecom firms were at the beck and call of Gujarat police.
Speaking to Gulail, a senior manager of a telecom company said that when a phone was put under surveillance, the Gujarat police didn’t need an authorization from the Home Department for the first seven days. Often, revealed the manager, the first seven-day period was arbitrarily extended by the Gujarat police by another week. But, for numbers outside Gujarat, the state police was required to route it through the Home Department of the state in question. That’s why to intercept Madhuri’s Bangalore phone the Gujarat police had to write to the Karnataka Home Department once they had exhausted the first seven-day quota.
Gulail’s investigation also shows that the Gujarat police routinely sent interception authorizations 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.
Gulail is ready to produce the video recorded statement of the telecom officer we interviewed before a competent investigating agency.
From these tapes and our investigations, it’s clear that the 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. This surveillance was not about Madhuri’s personal safefty. Nor was it about our national security. Madhuri was stalked because the ‘Saheb’ was obsessed with her – and her love life.
These dirty secrets came out in the open on November 15, when Gulail and Cobrapost released 257 recorded telephonic conversations between Shah and GL Singhal, revealing that in 2009 the BJP Government in Gujarat had misused its powers to illegally intercept the phones of a young woman architect.
But the Bharatiya Janta Party dismissed the expose, claiming that the surveillance-cum-phone tapping was entirely legal and done at the request of Madhuri’s father. As a damage-control exercise, the BJP office even circulated an undated letter signed by Madhuri’s father Pranlal Soni, claiming that he had personally requested Modi to “look after” Madhuri. Soon, another letter, purportedly written by Pranlal Soni, was dropped at the reception of the National Commission for Women. In that letter, it was reiterated that Madhuri’s surveillance and phone interception was done with her consent to protect her.
But the new tapes prove beyond doubt that the sole purpose of this surveillance was to stalk Madhuri, and not to protect her. The BJP’s claim that the exercise was done to “protect” doesn’t hold water either. According to Section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act and several Supreme Court judgments, phone tapping can be done only in the event of the occurrence of a public emergency or in the interest of public safety, if the Central Government or the State Government or any officer specially authorized is satisfied that it is essential to do so in the interest of:
- The sovereignty and integrity of India.
- The security of the State.
- Friendly relations with foreign states.
- Public order.
- For preventing incitement to the commission of an offence.
But the new tapes nail the BJP’s brazen lies. The content of the tapes makes it clear that the Gujarat cops neither perceived nor discussed among themselves any direct or indirect threat to Madhuri. Nor did any officer speak to Madhuri or her family members to enquire about her wellbeing. They were just following like invisible ghosts.
From one of the conversations, it emerges that the police had no idea about the hotel in Ahmedabad she was booked into or how did she look like. So they tailed a woman they suspected to be Madhuri from the Ahmedabad airport to find out the hotel she was going to stay at. Even then, they were not sure if they had followed the right woman. So Singhal asked for a photo of hers. Singhal also wanted to plant a policeman in an adjoining room in Madhuri’s hotel to keep an eye on her movements.
It’s also clear from these tapes that the focus of the surveillance was Madhuri’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 and analysis between Sharma and Singhal. The two senior police officers also made plans to photograph Madhuri’s would-be husband as their cops tailed the couple wherever they went: restaurants, ice cream parlours, paan shops and even his residence.
The question is who wanted to know all these intimate details about Madhuri’s personal life? BJP wants everyone to believe that it was Madhuri’s family who wanted this for her protection. Now, it’s clear that neither Madhuri nor her family had any clue about the ongoing snooping. It’s also clear that this secret, illegal operation was done to regularly update the ‘Saheb’ about Madhuri and her love life.
From the BJP leaders’ own statements that Madhuri’s father had made a personal request to Modi for her daughter’s protection, there is little doubt who the Saheb is? It’s time for the BJP to spinning false tales about this crime. It’s time for the ‘Saheb’ to come out in the open and come clean on his role in this major scandal.
Even US National Security Agency (NSA), notorious for electronic surveillance, didn’t go to this length to stalk and haunt innocent citizens.
To see part-1 click here