Rupa Gulab on India’s Neo- Nazis, Snoopendra and Snoop Dogs

Snooping is in the DNA of Indians and so it should come as no surprise if you find Peeping Toms or sorry Snoopendras cozying up to neo-Nazis from Europe

Representational image (courtesy: social media)
Representational image (courtesy: social media)

Rupa Gulab

The nation gasped last week when the BJP invited Europe’s finest Islamophobes, neo-Nazis and other cuddly anti-immigration politicians to Kashmir to admire how superbly they had jailed eight million people.

The BJP denied inviting them (of course), although the PM made a welcome speech to them, Agent 000 (the NSA chief) debriefed them, the MEA met them for dinner, and army generals played genial tour guides in Srinagar. So, well.

Then we found out that a shady broker called Madi Sharma was involved, and an organisation called Institute for Non-aligned Studies (owned by an invisible chap called Srivastava) paid for all their holiday expenses. The company’s office building has been shut indefinitely since the story broke, and the only employee the media managed to meet was the chowkidar. No, not Chowkidar Modi, someone else.

Anyway, we saw holiday pictures of that charming neo-Nazi lot floating on Lake Dal, and I expect they will pop up again in Assam soon to cheerfully cut saffron ribbons and inaugurate the new concentration camps the BJP is building for Muslims.

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But hey, that’s not the big scandal anymore. There’s a bigger one, but first some advice: Please wear a swimming costume when you bathe (a very modest one) because the BJP is back to doing what it does best: playing Peeping Tom. Or else, stop carrying your smartphone to the bathroom.

We got a whiff of the BJP’s shameless Peeping Tom activities in 2013, when a Cobrapost & Gulail sting operation revealed that the home minister of Gujarat (now union home minister) had been ordered by the CM (now PM) to illegally spy on a young woman. I watched those tapes and noted that a restaurant called Have More was one of the victim’s favourite haunts.

I immediately crossed it off my restaurants-to-visit-when-in-Ahmedabad list, because it was clear from all the tapes I had seen that the victim and I do not have movies, hobbies, men, hell anything in common! When this snooping story broke, the BJP used its favourite “kanpatti pe gun” method for damage control: the victim’s father was made to write a letter saying that he had fallen at the CM’s feet and had begged him to stalk his daughter.

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Back to 2019: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed the big spy scandal when he took notorious Israeli spyware company, NSO, to court:1400 people across four continents were illegally spied upon when WhatsApp was hacked.

Victims in India include human rights activists, lawyers, journalists, and rival politicians—oddly enough, the very same people that the BJP loves to hate. While NSO has categorically stated that it only sells its spyware “to licensed government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to help them fight terrorism and serious crime,” the BJP denies having bought it (yawn, of course).

According to NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, NSO is "the worst of the worst" in the world of espionage. And NSO’s flagship malware, Pegasus, is positively lethal. It allegedly gave the Saudi regime easy access to journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s plans via his friend’s hacked smartphone. This incited them to come up with a plan of their own: his brutal murder, carried out in 2018. Gosh. We really should worry about our Dear Leader’s growing friendship with Saudi Arabia.

BJP supporters are not bothered about these illegal Peeping Tom activities, however. As far as they are concerned, the two bearded men in charge are their mummy-daddy (mummy is the one with the makeup, flashy accessories and wildly expensive clothes), and mummy-daddy always know best.

“Besides, we have nothing to hide,” they say in their ‘Proud Hindu Nationalist’ voices. The deluded darlings still think this malware only reveals their conversations on WhatsApp, tut. Here’s what it can do:

If the government wants to know everything about you, Pegasus gives you a missed call. Yes, just one missed WhatsApp call and boom—it takes control of your entire phone and your life as well because it can remotely turn on cameras and microphones. Your emails, texts, photographs, passwords, finances, locations, phone calls, nothing is private anymore—not even your showers, so remember what I said about bathing in a modest swimsuit, okay?

And hey, your love letters may turn some greasy government agent on or make him contemplate blackmail.

This is alarming, and in protest I have changed my WhatsApp status to this:

‘Shh! Snoopendra Modi is here.’

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Published: 8 Nov 2019, 8:36 PM