RS Praveen Kumar, president of the Telangana unit of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), told South First on Tuesday, 3 January, that the phones of a journalist and a poll strategist are also being compromised in the state as they have received notifications from Apple in this regard.
This comes barely two days after he shared on social media a similar claim about his own phone.
“The Telangana government has a profound reach and access to technologies. It is snooping on a lot of important people — including journalists and politicians who are questioning its misdeeds — and going scot-free because there is no one to monitor such misdeeds,” Praveen Kumar told South First.
He added that attempts were also being made to “compromise” the phones of BRS leaders who were likely to jump ship.
It may be noted that even Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan alleged last year that her phone was being tapped.
Allegations of phone-tapping
The former IPS officer said that on 16 December, he received an email from phone maker Apple saying that he was being targeted by state-sponsored attackers “who are trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with your Apple ID”.
It further said that these attackers were likely targeting him individually “because of who you are and what you do”.
Two days ago, he tweeted about it stating that attempts were being made to hack into his phone.
“I was warned. I won’t destroy my phone like you,” he said, apparently referring to BRS MLC Kalvakuntla Kavitha, whose name has surfaced in the Enforcement Directorate enquiry into the Delhi Liquor Scam.
Kavitha, daughter of Telangana Chief Minister and BRS chief K Chandrashekar Rao, allegedly destroyed her phone to get rid of the evidence.
None of the telecom service providers works for state governments. Only the ministry of home affairs has the authority to tap phones, and the government of India is doing it through Pegasus, an Israeli software, Krishank Manne, spokesperson of BRS, tweeted.
ప్రభుత్వాలు నా iPhoneను హ్యాక్ (Hack) చేస్తున్నాయి,జాగ్రత్తగా ఉండమని @Apple నన్ను హెచ్చరించింది. మీ లాగా నేను నా ఫోన్ ను ధ్వంసం చేయను😊కానీ మీ దోపిడి-చీకటి సామ్రాజ్యాలను ధ్వంసం చేసి, మా మహనీయులు కలలు కన్న బహుజన రాజ్యాన్ని నిర్మిస్తా👊 @BRSparty @BJP4India pic.twitter.com/F3AWo3cjR1
— Dr.RS Praveen Kumar (@RSPraveenSwaero) January 1, 2023
Another Prominent Poll Strategist of #Telangana shared with me that he also got threat notification twice from @Apple that his #iPhone is being targeted by the State. Hacking the phones of law abiding citizens with public money is unpardonable crime. #PunishStateHackers pic.twitter.com/eGEVbHTG96
— Dr.RS Praveen Kumar (@RSPraveenSwaero) January 3, 2023
‘Will register complaint soon’
The Telangana BSP chief said that he would register a police complaint regarding the attempt to “compromise” his phone soon as he was currently busy with his yatra in the state.
On the question of who tried to access his phone, the leader said that he believed both the BRS-led state government as well as BJP-led Union government were involved in it.
“I am a leader who is fighting against both the BRS and the BJP governments. But the primary suspect is the Telangana government, as I am going to the people in the state and educating them about corruption done by the government. I am pointing out all the misdeeds done by it, which the government is not able to digest,” Praveen Kumar told South First.
He added that he also suspected the BJP Union government’s hand in the matter, as he was also fighting against communal forces.
“The BJP government has also compromised devices and planted evidence in computers in different cases of activists like Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navalakha, and Varavara Rao. It is capable of doing so,” said Praveen Kumar.
He added that the Telegraph Act, which gives states the power to tap the phones of the individual, is just on paper.
“The act is for the people who break the law. It is meant to be used to compromise the phones of those people who are seen as threats to the nation. I am the winner of the Gallantry Medal from the President for serving the country. I am the last person to do something against the law,” he said.
“I am asking for accountability from the government. There is no accountability here. It’s so ‘normal’ to tap or track anyone’s phone. Where is the audit of all this information? There is no oversight from either the Union government or quasi-judicial bodies. You are free to do whatever you want to do and go scot-free,” said Praveen Kumar.