The Telangana government has issued what seems to be a gag order, prohibiting the media against publishing or transmitting any information on the developments on an ongoing tussle between Adivasi Gonds and Banjara Lambadas in Utnoor.
An order to this effect, signed by city Police Commissioner VV Srinivasa Rao, was served to the offices of the media channels based in Hyderabad on Sunday night.
The order, a copy of which is with TNM, came a day after violence broke out between the two groups in Utnoor and other parts of Adilabad district.
"Certain news reports being transmitted and retransmitted in several news channels of the media are not in conformity with the prescribed programme code mentioned in Section 5 of the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act 1995," the order stated.
It also claimed that the content being telecast was likely to promote disharmony, hatred, feeling of enmity and ill-will between the two communities, further leading to disturbance of public peace.
‚ÄúPublication or transmission of such contents will be a cognisable and non-bailable offence under Section 505 (2) (Statements conducing to public mischief) of the IPC. Besides, it also tantamounts to abetment under Section 108 and promotion of enmity between two different groups on grounds of caste and community under Section 153-A of the IPC,‚ÄĚ the order stated.
"I, prohibit herewith transmitting or retransmitting of any news reports on the subject of the conflict between Adivasi and Lambada communities that violate the prescribed programme code, in your channel, in public interest, with immediate effect," the order states.
Earlier this week, scores of people were injured, some of them critically, as the two groups attacked each other in tribal areas in Utnoor, about 250 km from Hyderabad.
The police used teargas shells at several places to disperse the clashing mobs, which set shops and vehicles on fire.
Police denied media reports that two people had been killed in the violence. According to Deputy Inspector General of Police Ravi Verma, nobody was killed in the clashes. The police issued prohibitory orders, banning the assembly of five or more persons in agency areas and sent additional forces to violence-hit villages to contain flare-up.
Trouble broke out after a statue of Komaram Bheem, a freedom fighter revered by Gonds, was found garlanded with footwear in Betalaguda in Narnoor block. Adivasis took out a protest rally at Hasnapur, which turned violent. Protestors torched a hospital belonging to former MP Ramesh Rathod.
Tensions have built up in some parts of the state over the last few days in the wake of the demand by Adivasis to remove the Lambadas from the list of Scheduled Tribes.
The violence in Adilabad came a day after the Adivasis resorted to violence in Jayashankar, Bhupalpally district against the inclusion of Lambadas in the Medaram Temple Trust Board, which organises Medaram Jatra, a tribal fair.
Following this, the TRS government in Telangana shunted out Adilabad District Collector Jyothi Buddha Prakash, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Karimnagar Range) C Ravi Verma and District Superintendent of Police M Srinivasulu for not acting swiftly on intelligence inputs and preventing the violence.