Chhattisgarh police booked for sedition a man seen in a video on social media allegedly claiming that power cuts in the state were being orchestrated to boost the sales of a company manufacturing inverters, but were forced to withdraw the charges on Friday on the intervention of chief minister Bhupesh Baghel.
The police had lodged a first information report against Mangilal, a resident of Dongargaon, on a complaint by a state-run power distribution company.
According to the FIR, he was heard claiming that an inverter company was “hand in glove” with the Congress-run Chhattisgarh government to stage power cuts for 10-15 minutes every two to three hours to boost the sales of inverters.
Mangilal was booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 124 (a) (sedition) and Section 505 (1) (b) (disturbing public tranquillity) on Friday, Rajnandgaon superintendent of police Komalochan Kashyap said. He was produced in a local court and remanded in judicial custody.
However, chief minister Baghel stepped in soon after, saying that those spreading rumours on social media should not be booked for sedition but under relevant sections of the Information Technology (IT) Act and other sections of the IPC.
“We have taken back the sedition charges against the person. I believe there should be freedom of speech and no one should be booked for sedition. Secondly, I don’t believe in spreading rumours on social media, but the accused should be booked under other sections of the IPC and the IT Act, not sedition,” Baghel said.
The Chhattisgarh director general of police, DM Awasthi, said, “After investigation, it was found that the case is not fit for sedition. Hence, it has been dropped.”
On Thursday, a Chhattisgarh state power holding company had issued a statement that a complaint had been lodged against Mangilal for spreading rumours regarding the working of the company.
“Due to natural forces such as storms or other local reasons, power supply is affected but some people through social media are spreading that power cuts are because the power company has made a tacit agreement with some inverter companies, which is totally fake,” said Shailendra Shukla, chairman of the five power distribution companies in Chhattisgarh.
Jun 14, 2019 16:47 IST