The journalists alleged that the case was registered to target and silence them.

Three journalists who got arrested by Telangana policeBy arrangement
Coronavirus Politics Wednesday, July 08, 2020 - 09:20

Three journalists, including the editor of ‘Aadab Hyderabad’, a Telugu newspaper, have been booked by Hyderabad's Jubilee Hills police for publishing a report which claimed that Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) tested positive for COVID-19.

The case was registered based on a complaint from one Mohammed Illyas, a resident of Rahmathnagar in Jubilee Hills, who is said to have submitted a paper clipping of the said report.

Speaking to TNM, Station House Officer (SHO) K Sathaiah said, “They published a fake news report in Aadab Hyderabad paper that said ‘Corona got KCR’ and that he is suffering from cough and is under quarantine for treatment. A case has been registered against them.”

According to the SHO, the case was registered under Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code (Statements conducing to public mischief) and Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (Punishment for false warning).

The SHO said that the accused journalists, V Sathyam, sub-editor M Shiva and reporter Anamchinni Venkateshwar Rao, were questioned and given notices for the same. The case is under investigation.

While the police claim that they have acted on a complaint against ‘fake news’, the journalists who have been booked have claimed that they are being targeted in an attempt to silence them.

Anamchinni Vekateshwar Rao, an independent investigative journalist from Khammam, told TNM that the police picked him up from his morning walk though he was not the one who wrote the article.

According to Rao, he has been contributing articles to Aadab Hyderabad. He said, “As they are not in a position to question the credibility of other reports, they took the specific report published in the paper to foil the case against me.”

He alleged that the case against him and his colleagues is ‘false’.

When TNM reached out to M Shiva, who wrote the article, he claimed, “I have written the article based on a report on a Telugu news channel and a story in a leading English website of a news channel. While the first report talked about people in Pragathi Bhavan testing positive and the Chief Minister possibly shifting to his private residence, the second story on the website claimed he is taking treatment for fever and cough. I did not give any opinion.”

He added, “We have a responsibility to write about the health and whereabouts of CM KCR as four crore people are concerned. I wrote ‘KCR got Corona?’ which means it is merely a suspicion and calls for the response of the government. If it is true, clarify that. If not, rule it out or condemn it, but instead of doing that, filing illegal cases against reporters to silence them is wrong.”

The Telangana Working Journalists Federation (TWJF) has condemned the incident and said that the government is trying to silence the media from writing against the government.

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