Telangana: Former Intelligence officer Praneeth Rao sent to 14-day judicial custody

Praneeth Rao allegedly resorted to clandestine monitoring of individuals, unauthorised access to official records, and misuse of intelligence information.
Former Intelligence Officer, Praneeth Rao
Former Intelligence Officer, Praneeth Rao
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Former intelligence officer D Praneet Rao was sent to Chanchalguda prison in the early hours of Wednesday, March 13 by Hyderabad Police in relation after a court ordered 14 judicial custody in  a case involving serious charges of destroying documents on December 4, 2023, i.e a day after Bharat Rastra Samithi (BRS) lost Telangana Assembly elections. The arrest comes after a complaint lodged by  D Ramesh, Additional Superintendent of Police of the Special Investigation Branch (SIB), on March 10th, 2024 alleging clandestine monitoring of individuals, unauthorised access to official records, and misuse of intelligence information.

Praneeth Rao worked as Inspector in SIB - an anti-naxalite unit from 2018 and was promoted to the position of  Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) in 2023. “On the night of December 4th, 2023, Praneeth orchestrated the dismantling and destruction of equipment containing vital data.  He deliberately disabled CCTV cameras while systematically erasing decades' worth of data. To further cover his tracks, he replaced destroyed hard drives with new ones, compounding the offence,” Ramesh said in his complaint. 

According to reports, T Prabhakar Rao, former Superintendent of Police tendered his resignation to the post of SIB chief after elections results were announced on December 3 in which the BRS party which ruled the state for a decade led by K Chandrasekhar Rao lost to the Congress party.

Prabhakar Rao was considered as a close associate to CM KCR. Praneeth Rao was working as a  DSP of the SIB at that time. Hyderabad police filed several charges against Praneeth Rao under Indian Penal Code 409(criminal breach of trust by a public servant), 427(mischief), 201(causing disappearance of evidence ), 120 b, r/w 34 (criminal conspiracy) and Prevention Of Damage To Public Property (PDPP) Act was invoked. Several reports suggest that, Praneeth was tasked to monitor individuals in the opposition party, media and bureacrats.

D Ramesh, who was an officer within the branch since 2019, alleged that Praneeth Kumar ‘clandestinely monitored individuals’ by developing profiles without authorization and said that he had special privileges within the SIB and access to documents while working as an inspector.  

According to Ramesh, Praneeth had two exclusive rooms within the SIB premises, with seventeen computer systems and a dedicated leased line with internet connectivity which facilitated him to conduct unauthorised surveillance operations.

Further he alleged that Praneeth abused his official position to copy intelligence information onto personal drives such as pen drives and external disks by colluding with individuals. 

According to the official press note issued on March 13, the investigation officer, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Jubilee Hills, P Venkatagiri, reported that there was prima facie evidence against Praneeth Rao following which he was apprehended by the police at his residence in Sircilla district on March 12 at 10.30pm.

Deputy Commissioner of Police, (DCP) West Zone, stated that Praneeth Rao has confessed to his involvement in the reported offences and revealed his accomplices. Subsequently, he was formally arrested on March 13th, 2024, and presented before the court. The court has remanded him to judicial custody for 14 days, and is lodged at  Chanchalguda Prison.

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