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The Narendra Modi government was spying on its citizens and political leaders before and during the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

There is no direct evidence to prove the Indian government's involvement in the 2019 Pegasus hackings of Indian journalists' and activists' phones.

There is no direct evidence to prove the Indian government's involvement in the 2019 Pegasus hackings of Indian journalists' and activists' phones. NSO, an Israeli software company, provides a monitoring service using its spyware named Pegasus. In 2018 and 2019, there were allegations that the company spied on potential journalists and political figures in at least 45 countries, including India.

According to WhatsApp in May 2019, their video calling system was targeted by hackers to send malware into the users' WhatsApp accounts. The company immediately stepped up the security of its systems and issued an update to secure users' accounts from being hacked. According to WhatsApp, a Toronto-based academic research group named Citizen Lab volunteered to help WhatsApp understand the impacts of such attacks on civil society, including journalists and human rights activists.

In October 2019, WhatsApp reportedly blamed the Israeli-based NSO group, also known as Q Cyber Technologies, for the attempted cyberattack on WhatsApp video calling services in May 2019. According to an Indian Express report from November 2019, around 1400 people were targeted worldwide using the Pegasus spyware, and that the list included Indian journalists and activists. In between the reported May and November 2019 cyberattacks or attempted cyberattacks, India held its general elections where the Narendra Modi-led NDA government won the second consecutive election. However, the Indian government denied its involvement in spying on its own citizens.

The NSO Group has denied spying allegations and noted that they only provided their services to some governments. The company, however, did not reveal the details of their government clients. It further said that it would consider filing a defamation lawsuit against the allegations.

Even in 2021, Amnesty International reported another attack involving the NSO group using the Pegasus spyware on several people including prominent Indian journalists and politicians. Once again, Indian IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnav has denied reports of the Indian government's role in the hacking.

Despite WhatsApp and Citizen Lab claiming to have proof of the NSO group's involvement in using the spyware against journalists and social activists in India, there is no direct evidence to show the Indian government's involvement in spying on its own citizens. Thus, presently we cannot confirm the Indian government's role in the hackings.

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