Govt tapping phone calls to finish opponents: Deuba

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KATHMANDU, July 23: The main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) President Sher Bahadur Deuba has alleged that the government is bent on finishing its opponents and critics by tapping their phone calls.

Addressing a function organized by Martyrs’ Memorial Foundation on the occasion of BP Memorial Day in the capital on Monday, Deuba said the government was trying to introduce new Telecommunication Act in order to tap the telephone conversation of individuals and finish all its rivals. “The government is reportedly planning to slap one year jail term and several thousand rupees in fine for scolding someone over the phone. If this is true, it is clear that the government is tapping phone conversation of individuals,” he said.

Arguing that it is not possible to know whether one has scolded someone over the telephone without tapping their conversations, Deuba said that such a move on the part of the government is “dangerous”. “This is another dangerous thing. There will no more privacy. It will be equally difficult to talk over the phone,” he further said.

The former prime minister also expressed concerns that the government could misuse the provision of the proposed Telecommunication Act to finish off all its rivals. “This is what is called an authoritarian rule,” he said. Deuba was referring to reports that the draft Telecommunication Bill prepared by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology is proposing to slap one year in jail and up to Rs 1.5 million in fine for those scolding, threatening or harassing anyone over the phone.

While criticizing the government for trying to curtain civil liberties and civic space, NC President Deuba also vowed not to allow the government to endorse the controversial Media Council Bill and National Human Rights Commission Bill through parliament. “We will be forced to obstruct parliament if these bills are not withdrawn. We will also be forced to take to the streets in that case,” he warned.

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