Several people on Twitter are using #SupportRanganayakiMadam to question the move.

Ranganayaki
news Coronavirus Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - 17:02

A 66-year-old woman was served a notice by the Guntur CID police at her home on Monday, for a Facebook post against the YSRCP government’s handling of the Vizag LG Polymers gas leak incident and said that she 'was stoking fear'.

The woman, named Ranganayaki Poonthota, had written a post comprising 20 points accusing the YSRCP government of poorly handling the aftermath of the gas leak, concluding that the victims are unlikely to get justice. The content of the post is attributed to a person called Raghu Nadh Malladi. 

A press release from Guntur CID said that the CID has asked people to avoid posting “illegal, defamatory content against the government or government officials, thereby creating mistrust among people towards the government, provoking dissent amidst people and disturbing law and order”, and warning that such actions will result in legal consequences. 

“Yet, in the extremely sensitive case of LG Polymers gas leak, we found that some people have posted defamatory content against the government in a way that creates anxiety among people, and shared false information to stoke dissent among people. In our preliminary investigation, we found this to be true,” the press release said. 

While Ranganayaki, the prime accused, has been served a notice under CrPC section 41-A (for arrest without a warrant), the Guntur CID is inquiring about the whereabouts of the second accused in the case, Malladi Raghu Nadh. 

Speaking to TNM, Andhra Pradesh CID Addl DGP PV Sunil Kumar said, “There is a person called Malladi Raghu who is spreading baseless, false information and instigating messages against the government through Whatsapp. She (Ranganayaki) is the one who picks up these posts and makes it onto the surface through Facebook etc.”, he said, adding that Malladi Raghu Nath has been absconding. The woman has been served the notice for arrest at her home, amounting to station bail, he said. 

The CID police has registered a case under sections 505 (2) (making statements conducive to public mischief), 153 (A) (promoting enmity between different groups), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 120B (punishment for criminal conspiracy) read with 34 IPC, and Section 67 of IT Act, 2008. 

The release said that if this is found to be the first instance of such a crime committed by the accused, they could face 3 years of jail and a fine of Rs 5 lakh. In case there’s found to be repeat offenders, the jail term will be 5 years and the fine, Rs 10 lakh. 

“Therefore, people must take note and refrain from making improper and defamatory comments, and false accusations against the government or government officials, thereby causing confusion and anxiety among people and creating law and order problems, and provoking different groups. If anyone writes such posts on social media, they will have to face serious legal consequences,” the CID’s press release said.

Contents of the post

The post which led to the arrest was shared by Ranganayaki, on May 12. Her Facebook profile has TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu's picture as cover image and it says that she runs her own business. The post also goes onto make strong allegations that all evidence in the LG Polymers gas leak case has been destroyed, that the company was not seized, and the company’s “liquid asset” styrene has been cleverly returned. It alleges that the police visit to the factory was a guise to tamper with the staff’s attendance records, and the clues team was not given an opportunity to collect fingerprints.  

It questions why the CBI was not roped in for investigating the matter. It also alleges that the quick disbursal of compensation to victims by the state government is cause for suspicion.

It points out that almost a week had passed since the incident but no arrests had been made, and the company representations were roaming free. Many people have shared such posts recently, and it remains unclear why the CID decided to go behind these two people.

TDP chief and Leader of Opposition Chandrababu Naidu tweeted in support of Ranganayaki. He wrote, “A 66-yr-old elderly woman who spoke out against @ysjagan on social media has been served notice by CID. Power is blinding the CM and his ability to take criticism. One day fate will turn its back and all this arrogance will come crashing down.”

Several people on Twitter, many of whom are TDP supporters, are using #SupportRanganayakiMadam  to talk about the arrest.