I appreciate the article We, the Eavesdropped (May 3) on the illegal eavesdropping conducted by Indian intelligence agencies (and their international cohorts). I’m convinced, however, that the problem is far more insidious. Illegal privacy invasion has become ubiquitous as intelligence agencies have collaborated with equipment that can literally eavesdrop on the thoughts of the human mind, and use key words to hone in on the thoughts of just about every citizen of any industrialised country. Just a few (in my opinion, lucky) individuals in remote parts (such as tribal communities) are not subject to this invasion of privacy. Of course, this does explain why there is such a drive to overcome these communities and integrate them into the larger citizenry. Robert Weise, on e-mail
I’d love to ask Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi how someone’s phone can get tapped “accidentally”. It’s akin to the US air force bombing news network Al Jazeera’s offices “accidentally” in Afghanistan! Abesh, London
I wish the Opposition would use the phone-tapping issue to unite against the Congress. Laloo and Mulayam were right when they told the BJP in Parliament recently: “Aapne agar masjid na girayi hoti to aaj hum bikharte nahin.” If the BJP could somehow break itself from the rss grip, apologise for Babri and Gujarat, the electoral map could be a very different one indeed. The secular/communal divide would be gone, and replaced hopefully by a Congress/non-Congress one. As of now, the Congress seems to be slipping into the dangerous complacency of a more or less permanent one-party rule. Chinmay, Hanover
It’s strange how all the politicians have come together on the issue of phone-tapping. Where are these hypocrites when Pakistan eavesdrops or the Chinese hack into our networks? R.C., Mumbai
Wire/phone-tapping/surveillance is an integral part of modern-day life and intelligence-gathering. In no other country does the media bear thus on disclosing information regarding the nation’s surveillance activities. Now a JPC will be called for, the details of India’s surveillance will be made public and an important organisation like ntro will be set back by many years. Gautam, Mumbai
Is there any way of confirming if one’s mobile is being tapped? I can hear my own voice when I am speaking and my cell’s battery gets discharged pretty soon too! Amit, Mumbai
Tapping phones and intercepting e-mails of politicians, radicals, social activists and journalists by intelligence agencies has been an old phenomenon. A spokesperson of the Dal Khalsa—a known overground political group advocating the goal of Khalistan—I have no doubt that my phone has been and is being tapped by the IB and state intelligence wing since I entered the political arena in 1998. However, when a person like me shouts that “our phones are being tapped, we are under constant surveillance and our liberty and life are being invaded,” there is no hue and cry in society. We are given to understand that we are Sikhs and have no right (constitutionally or otherwise) to question the state for committing such illegal and immoral acts. However, Outlook does a story on how high-profile politicians from the Hindi heartland have been successfully though illegally tapped, and there is a storm in political circles. Kanwar Pal Singh, spokesperson, Dal Khalsa
On the one hand, our politicians say they are “public servants”. On the other, they complain about phone-tapping. If they have nothing to hide, why the fear? In fact, if the conversations of politicians were to be made public, we would know exactly how much they care for their constituents. Dinesh Kumar, Chandigarh
The misuse of government machinery and power is very rampant these days. I was shocked when I came to know that my mobile and those of some other people who united to get their money back from a fraud builder in Faridabad were being tapped by Delhi police. Ironically, it was very easy and cheap for the builder to eavesdrop. He just had to file a false complaint in the Kalkaji police station and the rest was taken care of by the greedy government force. Arvind, Delhi
The three Fox intercepts Outlook quotes appear to have been picked up randomly by the system and not targeted specifically at the individuals concerned. While searching for the elusive needle in the haystack, intelligence agencies are likely to inadvertently latch on to some ongoing conversations between vips/politicians or the general public, which can’t be considered as targeted tapping: tapping has a different connotation altogether. Such agencies, perpetually blamed for intelligence failure, have to remain steps ahead of the nation’s enemies; some loss of privacy is a small price to pay in the national security interest. Brig Lakshman Singh (Retd), Noida
Intelligence agencies would tap politicians or men of power to find out whether they are anti-national, anti-social, corrupt, involved in money-laundering, human trafficking, rape, murder and, last but not the least, anti-party activities. But they need not be tapped for this, we already know this. Spindoc, Somerset
This could now be regarded as a criterion to judge a person’s importance. If your conversations aren’t being tapped, then you’re not playing in the zone. Ashok Lal, Mumbai
A limerick for Big Bro:
It seems our phone lines are tappedTo plug the information gap, Thousands are employed, Ministers are overjoyed Listening to unadulterated crap. Verse Cannon, New Delhi
Sensation-seeking Outlook finds another piece of yellow journalism to boost sales. Rajendra Chopra, Faridabad
This seems like a classic case of ‘paid news’, and all fingers seem to point to a disgruntled Sharad Pawar. With exposes such as these, who needs enemies? What next? A disclosure on our nuclear weapons sites? MPs are not above the law to not come under the ambit of intelligence, especially when every internet-using citizen is being monitored electronically. Besides, only those who have clandestine dealings should have reason to be perturbed. Ramon Terence, one e-mail
It’s unlikely that an agency which can’t track tech-enabled terror strikes like 26/11 can unearth anything useful from our politicos’ calls. Krishna Vinashak, Faridabad
Price rise, the IPL controversy and now this...the UPA government doesn’t seem to be doing anyone any good. R.K. Agarwal, Bangalore
The iron being hot, now is a good time for the Opposition to strike at the UPA. The coalition may have won the electoral battle, but the Opposition could well win the war if it gets its strategies right. Alok Kumar, Muzaffarpur
imported leaders are far better than home grown leaders as far as corruption goes .
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