No Deaths Due to Lack of Oxygen Reported During 2nd Wave, Govt Tells Rajya Sabha

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This came a day after proceedings in both Houses of Parliament were washed out due to uproar by the Opposition over farm laws as well as the snooping row. IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Monday dismissed media reports on the use of Pegasus software to snoop on Indians, saying the allegations levelled just ahead of the Monsoon session of Parliament are aimed at maligning Indian democracy. In a suo motu statement in Lok Sabha, Vaishnaw said that with several checks and balances being in place, “any sort of illegal surveillance” by unauthorised persons is not possible in India.

The minister made this statement in response to media reports that spyware Pegasus was being used to conduct surveillance on several Indians, including political leaders, government officials and journalists. Interestingly, Vaishnaw’s name too figures among the potential targets of surveillance through Pegasus, an Israeli spyware, according to news website The Wire.

“A highly sensational story was published by a web portal yesterday night…. The press report appeared a day before the Monsoon session of the Parliament. This cannot be a coincidence. In the past, similar claims were made regarding the use of Pegasus on WhatsApp. Those reports have no factual basis and were categorically denied by all parties…. The press report of July 18, 2021 also appeared to be an attempt to malign the Indian democracy and a well-established institution,” the minister said.

Meanwhile, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhishan will address floor leaders of political parties on Covid-19 on Tuesday in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Bhushan will address the leaders at 6pm, and is also expected to show presentations on the pandemic and how it was managed. At an all-party meeting on Sunday, opposition parties had objected to the government’s offer for a joint address by Modi to all floor leaders in a building in the Parliament complex.

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