New Delhi: India on Wednesday summoned a top US diplomat in Delhi to protest against alleged snooping by America's National Security Agency (NSA) on the BJP when it was in opposition in 2010.
Officials in the Indian External Affairs Ministry termed the snooping allegations as "unacceptable" and sought concrete assurances from the US that it would not happen again.
"We have lodged a strong protest with the American diplomat over the snooping claims. We are completely against any intrusion of privacy. We want an assurance from the US that it will not happen again," a senior Ministry official said. It may be mentioned here that the US currently doesn't have a full-time envoy in India after Nancy Powell resigned as Ambassador and left the country in May. Kathleen Stephens is in charge of diplomatic affairs in Delhi.
However, officials are tight-lipped over the name of the US diplomat summoned by the External Affairs Ministry to complain about the snooping allegations.
According to classified documents reportedly leaked by US whistleblower Edward Snowden, the BJP was among six political outfits in the world that the National Security Agency was allowed to spy upon.
In fact, in the documents leaked by Snowden and published by The Washington Post on Monday, the BJP is named along with Lebanon's Amal, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and the Pakistan People's Party for being among authorised targets for the NSA in 2010.
This is the third time that India has taken up the issue of spying with the US Last year, Delhi had complained to the US on two other occasions over similar revelations, including the disclosure that its UN mission in New York and its Washington embassy were snooped on.
On both the occasions, Washington had said that it would look into the complaint, but Indian officials said nothing came of it.
Experts say that the latest revelations came at a time when both India and the US have been trying to improve relations – which deteriorated in recent months following a row over the "illegal" arrest of an Indian woman diplomat in New York on visa fraud charge.
"Indian PM Narendra Modi shares an uneasy relationship with Washington over his visa ban due to his alleged involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riots. Though the visa ban is lifted, these revelations may dampen India's spirit at a time when Modi is likely to meet US President Barack Obama during his impending visit to New York in September," said Prof Jay Singh of Delhi University.