Trinamool Congress (AITC) Member of Parliament Shantanu Sen was suspended from the Rajya Sabha on 23 July for the remaining period of the Monsoon Session a day after he snatched and tore IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw Pegasus statement.
Soon after the obituary references and laying of papers, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan moved a motion for Santanu Sen’s suspension. The motion was passed by a voice vote and Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu asked Sen to leave the House.
Naidu said that he was deeply distressed by the course of events in House on 22 July. “Unfortunately, proceedings of the House hit a new low with papers being snatched from the Minister and torn into pieces. Such actions are a clear assault on our Parliamentary democracy,” he said.
“Santanu Sen, please withdraw from House. Allow the House to function,” the Chairman said.
The AITC members protested and raised objections to the manner in which the motion was brought without listing it in the day’s business. Trinamool Congress MP Sukhendu Sekhar Ray raised the issue of Santanu Sen being threatened by a minister, but the chairman said it happened after the house was adjourned.
Santanu Sen had on 22 July snatched papers from IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw in the Rajya Sabha and tore them as opposition MPs created ruckus on the Pegasus snooping row. Santanu Sen targeted the Communications and Information Technology Minister as he was making a statement on the snooping issue.
Opposition parties have stalled proceedings in Parliament alleging the government’s involvement in the alleged snooping following reports that nearly 300 mobile phone numbers including journalists, activists, opposition leaders from India and even of union ministers figured in this list of potential snooping targets by Israel’s NSO group which sells its Pegasus spyware only to “vetted” governments and government agencies.
Amnesty International and researchers collaborating with it have clarified their findings were not as simple as many opposition parties are making it out to be. The list of 50,000 phone numbers at the centre of the investigation into the NSO, which has caused a global storm in recent days, is not a list of Pegasus software targets and is not necessarily directly related to Israeli society, Amnesty International, which was a key partner in the Forbidden Stories consortium, said yesterday.