Telangana journalist booked by police for writing post against power cut

The electricity department accused journalist Revathi of spreading ‘false propaganda’ against the government.
Telangana journalist booked by police for writing post against power cut
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A woman journalist from Hyderabad has been booked by the Telangana police on charges of spreading “false propaganda” against the state government. The action was taken after the journalist – Revathi – had flagged a complaint of a woman who was allegedly harassed by a lineman from Telangana State Southern Power Distribution Company Limited (TGSPDCL).

According to Revathi, the woman had complained on X (formerly Twitter) about experiencing frequent power outages, and the lineman who came to resolve the issue instead threatened her to delete her post. The newly-formed Congress government is being widely criticised for power disruptions, a situation which was not prevalent under the previous BRS government. 

As Revathi’s post went viral with many criticising the inefficiency of the government, the LB Nagar police under Rachakonda Commissionerate filed a case on her on June 19, based on the complaint of M Dileep, Assistant Engineer at the Telangana State Southern Power Distribution Company Limited (TGSPDCL). 

The journalist was booked under section 505 (public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code and 66 D (cheats by personation) of the IT Act. She was accused of making false allegations. 

On June 18, Revathi wrote,  “A woman from LB Nagar, Hyderabad was terrorized by an unexpected incident today. Tired of the frequent power cuts, she wrote an X post about the incident and a lineman drops at her residence and demands her to delete the post. She called the electricity department and told them about this. Requested them not to send them such people to threaten her. The official then tells her that she should call them and not post about it because there is too much pressure on the electricity department from the ‘people above’. I cross checked the incident, there is a recording of the incident but the woman didn’t want me to share it here because she fears for her safety!”

Revathi also alleged that the woman had experienced a power cut that lasted seven hours in a previous incident. But the electricity department has disputed the claim. In his complaint the Assistant Engineer said that there was no power interruption lasting for seven hours in the past six months. “...it is merely false allegation and intentionally defaming the state government and their organisation TGSPDCL,” the AE wrote. 

Revathi admits that she made a mistake in alleging that the power cut lasted for seven hours instead of four hours. But the action taken against her for making a minor error is excessive, she said. “I have been in the media business for 20 years, whenever something goes wrong we publish a rejoinder. They could have asked me to publish a rejoinder and I would have done that and said the power cut was for four hours and not seven hours,” Revathi told TNM. 

“My post was not about the power cut at all, my post was about a woman who shared online that she was experiencing long power cuts and how she felt threatened by the lineman who came to her home and demanded that she delete the post. The authorities are however are catching me on the technicality that the power cut was not for seven hours,” Revathi said.

Meanwhile, several journalists have condemned the police action against Revathi. 

BRS working president and former Minister K T Rama Rao (KTR) had come in support of Revathi when she had complained that the Rachakonda police was making “veiled threats” for writing against the electricity department. 

“Shocking State of affairs in Telangana. What right has the @TelanganaCOPs got to intrude and issue veiled threats to a journalist who raised a genuine concern about citizens plight with respect to Electricity ? Is the police department running Energy department or is it just plain police Raj where you will file cases on anyone who raises questions in social media? Any answers @TelanganaDGP Garu or @RachakondaCop ???” KTR asked. 

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