The Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ), along with Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Chandrababu Naidu and Jana Sena Party chief Pawan Kalyan, have condemned police action against senior journalist Ankababu. Seventy-three-year-old Ankababu was picked up from his Vijayawada residence by the Andhra Pradesh Crime Investigation Department (CID) on Thursday, September 22 at around 6.30 pm for allegedly sharing anti-establishment posts on WhatsApp. Ankababu reportedly shared some information about an alleged gold smuggling incident at the Gannavaram airport, believed to have shown the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government in a bad light.
Terming the arrest of Ankababu as “illegal”, the members of APUWJ protested outside the Press Club in Vijayawada on Friday. The journalists said that the police violated the rules without serving the notice of appearance under Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) before the arrest. They questioned how sharing posts from one group to another on WhatsApp was a crime. Expressing concern over the health of the senior journalist, they demanded the CID to release him immediately. They announced that other journalist associations too will join in solidarity with Ankababu.
Besides journalists, former Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition Chandrababu Naidu also condemned the arrest of Ankababu. Stating that the arrest of the journalist was illegal, he said that police should be held responsible if Ankababu faces any health issues. “It is learnt that Ankababu, aged 73 years, is a senior journalist and is diabetic and BP patient, while his wife is also suffering from severe ailments. In this regard, if any untoward incident happens to Ankababu the entire police department will be held responsible,” Naidu wrote in a letter to the Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police. He said that the journalist’s arrest was a gross violation of fundamental rights, his freedom of speech and freedom of press.
The former CM also found fault with the manner in which the arrest was made. Reportedly, the CID officers went to the journalist’s residence in Vijayawada in plain clothes to detain him. “None of the 8 people were wearing uniform and did not display their badge number or name, and did not even serve notice under Section 41A,” Naidu pointed out. Accusing Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy of curtailing dissent, he questioned why the government was afraid of a simple post shared by the journalist. Demanding the unconditional release of Ankababu, he said that the police should ensure not to make such illegal arrests in the future. Actor-politican Pawan Kalyan also condemned Ankababu’s arrest, and called for media organisations to respond in a democratic manner and protect freedom of speech.