Authorities in Andhra Pradesh said that former state Irrigation Minister and senior Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader Devineni Umamaheswara Rao (Uma) is currently absconding after he is wanted by the Crime Investigation Department (CID) for allegedly morphing an old video of Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.
"He (Uma) is absconding. He made a morphed video and displayed it in a Tirupati press conference," a CID official probing the case told IANS on Wednesday.
The case was registered based on a complaint from a Kurnool-based YSRCP leader. According to the CID, Uma allegedly illegally modified a 2019 press conference video of Jagan Mohan Reddy in which he reportedly spoke about the attractiveness of Tirupati as a location for professionals and used it to attack the CM in the run up to the high-octane Scheduled Castes (SC) reserved Lok Sabha bye-poll, ahead of voting which took place recently.
On April 7, Uma showcased this video and manoeuvred to gain a political advantage for the TDP in the run up to the bye-poll, the complainant alleged. The official said that the morphed video amounted to showing Jagan as saying, ‚ÄúNobody will come and stay in Tirupati when asked to do so. None of you will come and stay in a particular place if I come and ask you to stay. Any cardiologist or a highly educated person will prefer to stay in Hyderabad, Bengaluru or Delhi but nobody will prefer to stay in Odisha, Bihar or Tirupati.‚ÄĚ
"He displayed this video in the press conference, including taking care that the mouth (CM's) is not visible using some form of stickering," the official alleged. The official said that the video belonged to 2019 when Jagan Mohan Reddy spoke at Andhra Bhavan.
Following this incident, ruling YSRCP Kurnool district legal cell president and advocate N Narayana Reddy lodged a complaint with the CID on April 10. On receiving the complaint, CID police in Mangalagiri booked a case against the former minister under Sections 464 (making false document in the name of fictitious person), 465 (punishment for forgery) , 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 469 (forgery to harm reputation), 470 (Using forged document fraudulently as genuine one), 471 (punishment for using a forged document/electronic record as genuine, 505 (committing an offence at the place of worship) and 120(b)(criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
"As you have disrespected the Chief Minister by morphing his video and showcasing it to the press, we have included you as an accused in the case," said the CID notice served at Uma's Gollapudi residence in Vijayawada.
Police have already summoned Uma twice for a probe, on Thursday and Monday, but he evaded both the summons, including switching off his cell phone, officials said. According to family members of the ex-Minister, his whereabouts are not known to them. He was summoned to come with the device he used in the press conference for investigation.