Rohini Singh was selected for surveillance with the Pegasus spyware in 2018 and 2019. Forbidden Stories was unable to analyze the phone to confirm the infection.
Who is she?
Investigative journalist Rohini Singh made a powerful enemy when she broke her first story for The Wire, “The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah” in late 2017. Jay Amit Shah is the son of Amit Shah, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-hand man and current Interior Minister of India. Singh’s reporting, published in October, showed that the net worth of Jay Amit Shah’s businesses increased by a factor of 16,000 in the year following Modi’s election in 2014.
Singh has not been afraid to make links between powerful business interests and the Modi government. After taking on Jay Amit Shah, Singh moved on to Piyush Goyal, a businessman who would later become Modi’s railway minister. Singh’s reporting found that Goyal, four months after being named minister, had sold his company to a firm called Piramal without filing the proper assets and liability paperwork.
Singh has since published a number of other investigations into the nexus between business and politics in Modi’s India. Singh covered the battle for power in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) between two former special directors Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana.
Like Siddharth Varadarajan and MK Venu, she has been the target of various lawsuits, including a criminal defamation charge by Jay Amit Shah after the publication of her 2017 article. “When people call me up to say you’re under surveillance it doesn’t surprise me, it no longer makes me angry, I’ve just resigned myself to the fact that this will happen to me,” Singh told Forbidden Stories. “And that’s very sad that as a journalist I start thinking like that, because democracies don’t function this way. Democracies should never function this way.”
"The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah" The Wire (2017)Read
"In Selling Firm to Piramil Group as Minister, Piyush Goyal Pushes Ethical Boundaries" The Wire (2018)Read
"CBI Officer’s Explosive Petition: ‘Minister Paid, Doval Blocked Search for Evidence" The Wire (2018)Read
"Exclusive: CVC Met Alok Verma to Request He Withdraw Adverse Comments on Asthana" The Wire (2019)Read
The Indian government has never confirmed or denied being a client of NSO Group. “The allegations regarding government surveillance on specific people has no concrete basis or truth associated with it whatsoever,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology wrote in response to detailed questions sent by Forbidden Stories and its partners. NSO Group did not answer Forbidden Stories’ questions on specific targets but said it “will continue to investigate all credible claims of misuse and take appropriate action based on the results of these investigations.”