Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel in July 2017 has been brought under suspicion by The New York Times report. Soon after in 2019, India was witnessed supporting Israel at the United Nation's Economic and Social Council to reject onlooker status to a "Palestinian human rights organization." Owing to which, The New York Times has claimed that India has purchased Pegasus spyware from Israel Aerospace Industries as a part of a defence pact in 2017.
Pegasus spyware was development by NSO group, a company that develops technology “to help government agencies detect and prevent terrorism and crime.” The spyware was allegedly included in the deal between the two countries along with arms and intelligence equipment worth $2 billion. The software was later used against several journalists and activists by Mexico and Saudi Arabia in 2019.
After investigation, it was found that political leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, 40 journalists and several other significant figures were targeted. Although NSO has refuted the accusation stating that the countries using the software were not their clients.
In 2021, the Indian defence ministry had stated that there was no such trade with the NSO. The Supreme Court has also formed a committee who urged the public to contact them if their devices were impacted by Pegasus.
In the report “The Battle for the World’s Most Powerful Cyberweapon,” it has been stated that India has successfully maintained the policy of “commitment to the Palestinian cause” and that the relations with Israel were frostry, added by the report.
Both the country’s governments have maintained their silence on the Pegasus accusation. “The combination of Israel's search for influence and NSO's drive for profits has also led to the powerful spying tool ending up in the hands of a new generation of nationalist leaders worldwide. Though the Israeli government's oversight was meant to prevent the powerful spyware from being used in repressive ways, Pegasus has been sold to Poland, Hungary and India, despite those countries' questionable records on human rights.”, stated in the New York Times Report.
Kaushik, K. (2022, January 29). India bought Pegasus as part of defence deal with Israel in 2017: NYT. The Indian Express. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-bought-pegasus-defence-deal-israel-2017-nyt-7746655/
Staff, T. W. (2022, January 28). India Bought Pegasus as Part of Larger $2 Billion Deal with Israel in 2017, Claims “NYT” Report. The Wire. https://thewire.in/tech/india-bought-pegasus-israel-nyt-report