As YSRCP HQ gets raided by police for 'offensive' post, Andhra looks to 'regulate' social media

Reports suggest that the state is planning a Social Media Regulatory Authority.
As YSRCP HQ gets raided by police for 'offensive' post, Andhra looks to 'regulate' social media
As YSRCP HQ gets raided by police for 'offensive' post, Andhra looks to 'regulate' social media
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In a major development, the Andhra Pradesh police conducted searches at YSRCP's party headquarters, at Lotus Pond in Hyderabad's Banjara Hills on Saturday. 

This came a few hours after they released Inturi Ravikiran, who was detained for an offensive social media post on the Facebook page 'Political Punch'.

The searches triggered off a political storm, even as the police maintained that the searches were conducted based on a complaint lodged by Andhra Assembly secretary Satyarayana.

YSRCP MPs V Vijay Sai Reddy and Mithun Reddy, along with a few MLAs, rushed to the party office and questioned the police.

The police also reportedly served a notice to the party's social media wing, accusing it of hiring Ravikiran and keeping him on its payroll.

In a video posted on social media, Vijay Sai Reddy is seen saying, "Do anything you want here, but according to the law, and we have no problem."

As things got heated, the MP also dared the police, saying, "Whatever post that Ravikiran put on social media, I will put again on my name. You tell Lokesh to take action against me.”
Reports also suggest that the government is likely to set up a Social Media Regulatory Authority (SMRA) to 'control' social media platforms.

Deccan Chronicle reported that the Andhra CM had asked a former DGP to prepare draft regulations and identify legal experts, who could address issues related to social media.

Meanwhile, YSRCP chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy took to Twitter to say, “Request YSRC supporters across the globe to condemn CBN’s undemocratic tyrannical act in throttling social media, using the very same media."

This move by the police also came a day after Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said, “Since mainstream media is not entertaining their opinions, some people are going to social media and behaving in a disrespectful manner. We should control it and will go ahead with an organised plan."

On Friday, the Andhra police took Inturi Ravikiran, who runs a Facebook page titled "Political Punch", in for questioning from his Hyderabad house, after he uploaded an offensive post on social media.

According to reports, the post which got Ravikiran into trouble, showed Naidu's son and Andhra Minister, Nara Lokesh, asking his father to send him to “Peddala Sabha” (Upper House), while a banner of a kissing couple placed in front of the state’s new Legislative Council building, said that it was for “adults only”.

The Facebook page was also known to regularly mock Andhra Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and his son, Nara Lokesh, and is popular among critics of the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

The page had especially upped the ante ever since Lokesh's elevation in the party and in politics, first becoming an MLC and then the Minister for Rural Development, Panchayat Raj and IT.

This incident also comes less than a week after reports emerged that Nara Lokesh was irked by 'growing criticism' of the TDP and the Andhra government on social media.

 According to a PTI report, Lokesh said, "The (mainstream) media is favourable to us but we have no control over the social media and there is a lot of negative propaganda against us. We have to curb this... If we start taking criminal action against those making critical posts, it will be a deterrent to others.”

After he was picked up, Ravikiran's wife claimed that her husband worked at the 'YSRCP party office' in Hyderabad, while other reports suggested that he was part of the Opposition party's social media team.

This had also set off speculation on whether the TDP might take action against the YSRCP for the 'defamatory' posts.

While some condemned the incident, many also pointed out that several posts on the Facebook page were insensitive, and in bad taste.

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