Amid the ongoing standoff with the Indian Army in Eastern Ladakh and the back and forth through diplomatic channels, an investigation by The Indian Express has revealed that a Shenzen-based technology company with links to the Chinese government, and the Chinese Communist Party, is monitoring over 10,000 Indian individuals including PM Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind and CDS Bipin Rawat.
The investigation released last night reveals staggering details of a "hybrid warfare" with foreign targets in India identified and monitored in real-time by Zhenhua Data Information Technology Co. Limited.
According to the report, "From President Ram Nath Kovind and 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," are all under the radar of the tech company connected with the Chinese government.
The details were extracted by The Indian Express from the metadata of Zhenhua’s operations from the massive dump of log files that constituted what the company called the Overseas Key Information Database (OKIDB). The data was provided to The Indian Express, The Australian Financial Review, Italy’s Il Foglio and The Daily Telegraph, London by a source within the company.
The hybrid warfare refers to using non-military tools to achieve dominance or damage, subvert or influence. These tools include, in its own words, “information pollution, perception management and propaganda.”
Indian army convoy carrying reinforcements and supplies, drive towards Leh. Photo: Bloomberg
Apart from leaders and important individual, data revealed that the company also tracks relatives of, among others, Prime Minister Modi (wife Jashodaben); President Kovind (wife Savita Kovind); former PM Manmohan Singh (wife Gursharan Kaur and their daughters Upinder, Daman, Amrit); Sonia Gandhi (husband, the late Rajiv, son Rahul Gandhi, daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra).
Apart from political figures, the company also monitored media personalities, sports stars like Sachin Tendulkar, film director Shyam Benegal, classical dancer Sonal Mansingh, former Akal Takht Jathedar Gurbachan Singh among others.
The revelations hold significance in the backdrop of ongoing negotiations between Delhi and Beijing to curb the already flared up situation along Line of Actual Control in the Ladakh region.