Nagaland CM, Dy CM & CS among those under Chinese surveillance: Report

Nagaland Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio and Deputy CM, Yanthungo Patton (sitting) during a State Assembly session. (File Photo)
Nagaland Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio and Deputy CM, Yanthungo Patton (sitting) during a State Assembly session. (File Photo)

Morung Express News
Dimapur | September 16

Nagaland Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio, Deputy CM Yanthungo Patton and State Chief Secretary Temjen Toy featured in the list of those under surveillance by Shenzen-based Technology Company with links to the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party.

According to investigative report by The Indian Express, the company is monitoring over 10,000 Indian individuals and organisations in its global database of “foreign targets.”

In the second part of the report published on its website on September 15, The Indian Express said that its investigation of Zhenhua’s (OKIDB) Overseas Key Information DataBase “reveals that at least 180 politicians and bureaucrats on the target list are from states in the North-East including Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, Sikkim and the newly created Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.”

From Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs and Sports to Mehbooba Mufti, former Chief Minister of J&K when it was a state, those being monitored include Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and his deputy Yanthungo Patton, it said. 

The list mentions bureaucrats including Umang Narula, now advisor to Lieutenant Governor in Ladakh, and Japu Deru, former MLA from Bomdila and former advisor to Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu, it added. 

Beijing’s watch on the North-East has many reasons. For over a decade, China’s dam-building spree and water diversion plans along the Brahmaputra (Yarlung Tsangpo) on its side also remain a source of tension between the two neighbours, the report noted. 

Those in the Zhenhua list include at least 12 current or former Chief Ministers and their relatives; 10 serving ministers holding infrastructure portfolios such as Power, Water resources, Irrigation, River Development and Public works, and several key bureaucrats from Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and West Bengal, it said. 

In OKIDB, former Chief Ministers from the North-East include two from Assam, three from Arunachal Pradesh, two from Meghalaya, one each from Manipur, Sikkim and Mizoram.

Meanwhile, in another report, The Indian Express noted that key bureaucrats in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), IAS officers in infrastructure ministries, Chief Secretaries and Directors General of Police (DGPs) of states mark a strong presence in the Overseas Key Information DataBase of Zhenhua Data.

There are at least 375 bureaucrats, most of them serving and a few retired, in the database, it said. 

Among the serving bureaucrats in the database from states include Temjen Toy, Chief Secretary of Nagaland, it added.

In its first report published on September 14, The Indian Express reported that calling itself a pioneer in using big data for “hybrid warfare” and the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” a Shenzen-based technology company  was monitoring over 10,000 Indian individuals.

“The range of targets in India identified and monitored in real time by Zhenhua Data Information Technology Co. Limited is sweeping — in both breadth and depth,” it said. 

The initial list included President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi and their families; Chief Ministers Mamata Banerjee, Ashok Gehlot and Amarinder Singh to Uddhav Thackeray, Naveen Patnaik and Shivraj Singh Chouhan; Cabinet Ministers Rajnath Singh and Ravi Shankar Prasad to Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani, and Piyush Goyal; Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Singh Rawat to at least 15 former Chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force; Chief Justice of India Sharad Bobde and brother judge AM Khanwilkar to Lokpal Justice P C Ghose and Comptroller and Auditor General G C Murmu; start-up tech entrepreneurs like Nipun Mehra, founder of Bharat Pe (an Indian payment app), and Ajay Trehan of AuthBridge, an authentication technology firm, to top industrialists Ratan Tata and Gautam Adani.

Meanwhile, taking note of the report, Opposition members asked the government on Monday to step in, open a probe and take the initiative for a global dialogue.

The Congress said the report about “Chinese digital surveillance” of India’s leaders and others is “quite disturbing” and it is important to know the extent of this surveillance, and if there is more to this than collating data.

It said the development has huge implications for national security and privacy of citizens.

Reacting to the reports, the Government on September 16 set up an “Expert Committee” under the National Cyber Security Coordinator to study the revelations.  The committee will evaluate the “implications” of the digital surveillance being carried out by Zhenhua Data Information Technology Co. Limited and “assess any violations of law and submit its recommendations within thirty days.” 

This was conveyed by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in a letter to Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP KC Venugopal, who raised the issue in Rajya Sabha, The Indian Express updated.