Andhra Police bust plot to foment communal tension with fake post

Narsaraopeta (Guntur), Oct 7 (IANS): The Andhra Pradesh Police have nipped an attempt to foment communal tensions in the state by circulating a fake viral video with provocative content.

Challa Madhusudan (35) had posted the fake message on a WhatsApp group at 12:45 p.m. on Tuesday. At 12:49 p.m., one Murali posted the message in a Telegram group by the name AP Media, which has 60,875 members.

"In this group, 60,875 members received the message. At that time, around 3,000 viewers were online," Guntur Rural Superintendent of Police (SP) Vishal Gunni told IANS.

Within no time, the fake post was shared in several other social media groups, including some mainstream media houses which went hammer and tongs flashing this fake message as real news without verifying the facts.

"Without knowing the facts, some mediapersons shared the same in WhatsApp, Telegram and other social media groups. This fake and fabricated news went viral on different social media platforms," said Gunni.

In addition to these, several social media groups belonging to a political party and others have also widely shared the fake idol desecration message.

"A fake post was circulated on social media with a deliberate attempt to politicise the issue and whip up communal sentiment," Gunni pointed out.

Meanwhile, Madhusudan is on the run after switching off his phone and did not respond to the police notice.

"We found out that he runs some YouTube news channel in Vijayawada," said Gunni.

According to the SP, the idol was damaged a couple of years ago when a college held a function in that premises.

One of the partners of the property where the idol stood even circulated a video message busting the fake social media post.

"My name is Vijay Kumar, we are four partners. Twenty years ago we gave this property on rent to Krishnaveni College. The idol got damaged two years ago when the building was broken. But on social media, some people are saying that the idol has been broken recently. This is false," clarified Kumar with an image of him standing in front of the idol.

The police have registered a case under the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code for foisting enmity between two parties, and for falsifying and forwarding sensitive material.

Gunni said the police are initiating action against persons responsible for this mala fide post done with an aim to show the local administration in bad light and paint a negative picture of the police.

Several Telugu news channels and news sites fell for this fake news and the police are in the process of serving notices to them.

"We are also planning to serve notices to the people who forwarded the post in different social media groups. We are exploring the legal options," he said.

All the people and entities who receive notices have to come for preliminary investigation to give evidence to the police as to what promoted them to publicise the fake post.

Incidentally, the district police are experiencing a burnout as they are spending sleepless nights since a fortnight, striving to secure all religious places in Guntur district.

"In the past two weeks, not even a single constable had slept in the night because of the prevailing situation. They are engaged in temple security, night beats, and naka bandhi from 12 a.m. to 4 a.m.," Gunni said.

The senior IPS officer added that about 4,500 policemen in the district are over stretched with duties, but a small fake social media post by some miscreants is giving a real tough time to the police.

Post the Antarvedi Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple chariot blaze on September 5 in East Godavari district, religious politics are raging in Andhra Pradesh, a state which has been immune to such developments until recently.



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