Reality Bites: Snoopendra probably read this as I typed it

I’m wondering how some of Snoopendra’s spied-on friends will react when they meet him next: respectfully fold their hands in a namaste or clench their fists and let him have it

Reality Bites: Snoopendra probably read this as I typed it

Rupa Gulab

By now everyone and their doggy knows about the creepy Pegasus hacking, so I won’t get into the details. Everyone also knows that phone tapping is chicken shit compared to dangerous Pegasus spyware: It can hear you and (horror of horrors) watch you 24x7, even when you’re bathing, pottering around in your kitchen (or spitting into a nosey uninvited neighbour’s cup of coffee), access your emails, turn your phone on even after you switch it off, etc.

In short, the person who is spying on your smartphone has more control over it than you do. It is allegedly only sold to governments and not private entities, so while you may be waiting with bated breath for a Supreme Court-monitored committee to tell you who authorised the spying, I already know who did it.

Snooping was and is the only talent dear old Snoopendra has. The benefits reaped are tremendous—he has stolen elections, toppled state governments, got political rivals to join his bigoted party, made the media coo over him, and more. If you’re interested in Snoopendra’s shady past, follow Gujarati writer-satirist Urvish Kothari on Twitter or visit two threads he has created: #gujaratscrapbook and #realgujaratmodel.

You can also Google-search Mansi Soni and watch sting operation tapes that show you how Snoopendra spied on her for months. That story broke just before the 2014 elections, and in Snoopendra’s lovable kanpati-pe-gun style, her daddy was made to write a letter saying that he had authorised Snoopendra to spy on his daughter. India’s mainstream media and public intellectuals forgave him instantly—perhaps they hoped that Snoopendra would keep tabs on their daughters too? Me, I still shudder when I recall the tapes. The voice of a senior Gujarat police officer telling Snoopendra’s henchman that Ms Soni popped in to a Havmore ice cream parlour continues to haunt me.

Journalists whose phones were hacked have written and spoken out against this assault on their privacy in particular and democracy in general. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi (one of the victims) dealt with it in a novel way. Three days before the snoop scoop hit the media, he posted a teaser tweet that said, “I’m wondering what you guys are reading these days.” After the story broke, he tweeted: "We know what he's been reading—everything on your phone!" He continues to taunt Snoopendra by posting photographs of himself gazing at his phone with messages like: “Modi ji since you’re reading this, please make sure there’s no #OxygenShortage in the future.”

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerji dealt with it in her usual fiery manner. At a meeting (after she discovered that her nephew’s phone was also hacked) she held up her phone to reveal strips of surgical plaster covering the camera, and urged the Supreme Court to take suo motu cognizance of the nasty Pegasus issue. I loved the plaster bit and now I’m inspired to start a new business: phone camera band-aids with the message: “Buzz off, Snoopendra” printed on them.

Of course, Modi/Godi media (particularly news channels) rubbished the Pegasus spying claims to win lovely brownie points from Snoopendra. As Dr. Junaid Maqbool Bhat, consultant anaesthesiologist, tartly pointed out on Twitter, “They will believe SSR conspiracy theories, but will not believe all the evidence of the Pegasus Saga.”

While the Pegasus snooping scandal is a deadly serious matter, it has had its lighter moments too. Just a few hours after Ashwini Vaishnaw (the new IT minister) sanctimoniously declared in Parliament that this was just sensationalism without substance, it was revealed that he (and his wife) were Pegasussed too in 2017! Interestingly, he joined Snoopendra’s BJP soon after he was spied on. Has the penny dropped? Sadly, his media-created wunderkind image has taken a severe beating—only a wimp would continue to work for a man who spied on his family and knows where all their private birthmarks are.

The list of friends Snoopendra spied on is growing (Anil Ambani included), which makes me wonder if prurience also played a role in this nasty exercise. I’m willing to bet that there’s a secret Ministry of Blackmail that extracts steamy clips. Finally, I’m wondering how some of Snoopendra’s spied-on friends will react when they meet him next: respectfully fold their hands in a namaste or clench their fists and let him have it?

(Any resemblance with real events or people is a coincidence)

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