The Hyderabad Police on Monday arrested a 48-year-old chartered accountant for mischievously circulating a fake government order (GO), claiming that the Telangana government has imposed a partial lockdown in view of the COVID-19 crisis.
The accused has been identified as Sripathi Sanjeev Kumar, a resident of Madhapur. Police have also seized his mobile phone and laptop, which he used to commit the offence. The arrest was made by the West Zone Task Force team and the Central Crime Station (CCS) in a joint operation.
Sanjeev forged the GO by downloading the original document from last year during the lockdown, edited the date and shared it on WhatsApp groups on April 1, said Hyderabad Police Commissioner Anjani Kumar. The Commissioner disclosed that the police examined 1,800 cell phones to trace the originating point of the fake GO.
The Commissioner, explaining the severity of the issue, said, “The GO is the most serious document. The GO doesn’t matter to just the people of Telangana, but it affects business with other states. It affects trade and creates panic.”
The accused has been booked under sections 469 (forgery), 419 (punishment for cheating by personation) and 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating) of the Indian Penal Code.
The fake GO made by Sanjeev which claimed that all shops and commercial establishments including play grounds will remain closed from 6 pm to 8pm till April 30, went viral, forcing authorities to issue prompt clarification.
Telangana Chief Secretary K Somesh Kumar, in a statement, had clarified: “It has come to the notice of the government that an unsigned document claiming to be a GO issued on April 1, 2021, providing for closure of shops and commercial establishments etc. is circulating on social media. It is hereby clarified that the above said document is fake. No such order has been issued by the government of Telangana.”
The Hyderabad and Telangana police too flagged the GO as “false information,” asking people to not fall for it.