Against the backdrop of CM Siddaramaiah directing the state police to take suo-moto action against senders of communally provocative messages on social media, Bantwal police are on the lookout for a Dakshina Kannada-based photojournalist from whose number, an inflammatory message was sent.
An FIR was registered on January 16, based on a complaint by Bantwal councillor and SDPI leader Munish Ali, who alleged that a religiously inflammatory message had been sent on a WhatsApp group. While initially, the identity of the sender was unknown to the complainant, later upon enquiry, it was learnt that the number belonged to a local photojournalist, he said.
"Two-days ago I received this message in the group ‘Media and Rai Sir’ in Kannada that translates 'One who loved Hinduism extremely becomes a Sanyasi and one who loves lslam extremely becomes a terrorist and this fact is 100 per cent right. It was a disturbing and baseless analogy and I was deeply hurt. Especially since being in the media, the photo-journalist knows how communally sensitive the environment is in the Dakshina Kannada (DK) district. Such a message can instigate further violence," he added.
According to Munish Ali, the person whose name was registered against the number and who identified himself as a scribe, met Munish after the complaint and told him that it was just a ‘forward message’ that he had received and he did not intend to hurt anyone’s feelings.
Besides getting hold of the photojournalist, police assured Munish that they will try and trace the origin of the message. “I have told the police that the intentions were not to target any person. In fact, I have lodged the complaint against the number and referred it as ‘unknown person’, but such communal incitement should stop. On the flip side, if someone edits or morphs the text and blames it on a Muslim counterpart, imagine what would happen," Munish remarked.
Munish stated in his complaint that the misuse of technology to hurt religious feelings, create misunderstanding and cause religious provocation, must stop and demanded action against the perpetrators.
The WhatsApp group in question titled 'Media and Rai Sir' is apparently administered by the Personal Assistant of Minister of Environment and Forest Ramanath Rai. The group is said to be created for coordination between the media and Rai, who is also the District in-charge for Dakshina Kannada.
Meanwhile, TNM tried to contact the photojournalist in question to take his statement but despite repeated calls, his cell phone was switched off at the time of filing the report.
While confirming that an FIR has been lodged, local police officials said that they are yet to locate the suspect.
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