After Nara Lokesh calls for action against social media critics, Andhra police detain satirist
A political satirist was reportedly detained by the Andhra Pradesh police from his house in Hyderabad's Shamshabad area early on Thursday morning.
The police took Inturi Ravikiran, who runs a Facebook page titled "Political Punch", in for questioning after he reportedly uploaded an offensive post on social media.
The Hindustan Times reported that the post for which Ravikiran was detained, showed Lokesh asking Naidu to send him to “Peddala Sabha” (Upper House), while the banner of a kissing couple placed in front of the state’s new Legislative Council building, said that it was for “adults only”.
The Facebook page is also known to regularly mock Andhra Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and his son, Nara Lokesh.
The page has more than 90,000 likes on Facebook, and is popular among critics of Naidu and the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
Speaking to TNM, Superintendent of Police for Guntur (Rural), K Narayan Naik, confirmed that eight policemen reached Ravikiran's house at 3.30am in the morning to bring him in for interrogation.
“We have called him for interrogation. No official arrest has been made yet. The complaint has been filed by Assembly Secretary Satyanarayana," the police officer said.
The police added that he was booked under Section 67 of the IT Act, which deals with punishment for 'publishing or transmitting obscene material', and Section 292 of the IPC.
The case was registered at the Thullur police station in Guntur district.
Speaking to Sakshi TV, Sujana, Ravikiran's wife, said that the police asked him to get his phone, and put him in a car, before whisking him away.
"They didn't tell me anything. When I asked them where they were taking him, they just whisked him away. I didn't even get a chance to speak to my husband. I even ran on the road behind them," she said.
Interestingly, she also claimed that her husband worked at the 'YSRCP party office' in Hyderabad.
The HT report also claims that Ravikiran worked for the social media wing of the YSRCP.
This incident comes less than a week after reports emerged that Nara Lokesh was irked by 'growing criticism' of the TDP and the Andhra government on social media.
According to a PTI report, the TDP General Secretary, and recently inducted state Information Technology Minister, has asked TDP leaders to initiate criminal action against those "tarnishing our image".
"The (mainstream) media is favourable to us but we have no control over the social media and there is a lot of negative propaganda against us. We have to curb this... If we start taking criminal action against those making critical posts, it will be a deterrent to others," Lokesh was quoted as saying.
Lokesh’s comments followed many social media posts that had mocked the politician over his fumbles in public, and the wide circulation of such videos.
Initially, critics were questioned his fluency in Telugu, as he was seen struggling to recite some words during his oath-taking ceremony. Later, Lokesh was mocked for extending "greetings" to people on the occasion of 126th "Vardhanti" (death anniversary) of BR Ambedkar, when it was the late leader’s birth anniversary.
Ravikiran’s Facebook page had poked fun at these slips too.
While some condemned the incident, many also pointed out that several posts on the Facebook page were insensitive, and in bad taste.