Gau Rakshaks to Twitter Warriors: How Rachakonda police flags off inflammatory content on social media

Rachakonda cyber crime police have flagged many posts which are against the TRS government.

By Sumit Jha  Published on  17 April 2022 12:08 PM GMT
Gau Rakshaks to Twitter Warriors: How Rachakonda police flags off inflammatory content on social media

Hyderabad: On February 26, Saroornagar police arrested six persons in connection with Karmanghat communal violence.

The six have been identified as A. Shiva Chandra Giri (35), Varpa Lalith Chowdhary (22), Godavala Sruthik Reddy (19), Medi Ankith (20), P. Raj Sweekruth Reddy (19), and Tummalapally Ramakrishna Reddy (24). A juvenile was also arrested. Earlier, police had arrested seven people.

On February 22 night, members of the Goraksha Dal and Yuga Tulasi Foundation (cow vigilantes) staged a dharna at the Hanuman temple in Karmanghat to protest against people from other communities entering the temple.

According to police, they raised slogans against the police when the latter tried to prevent them from vandalizing public property and obstructing traffic. They live-streamed the protest on various social media platforms.

Later, Rachakonda Cyber Crime police started tracking such videos and posts. The videos have been shared by Bhartiya Janata Party-supported handles, especially on Twitter and Whatsapp. In one such video, they said: "Muslim mob has entered into KARMANGHAT HANUMAN TEMPLE (Hyderabad) and Vandalised temple property and injured 4 Hindus including 2 Women.[sic]"

In another video, a man is requesting people in Telugu- "Namaskar… In case the police don't come on time, our vehicle… [inaudible] I'm making one request brother… Just now these men came and attacked us. While we were trying to protect gau rakshaks they directly attacked us. CCTV still hasn't come out. All of you come to the temple proudly. Jai Shri Ram (sic)."

Police said on February 22 at about 9 pm, Yousuf and Nissar, the beef seller went to Nalgonda and purchased Buffalo calves and transported them in a Bolero vehicle to Hyderabad. At 7:30 pm, when they reached Gayatri Nagar, Meerpet, complainant Koti Mayuresh from Goshamahal in Hyderabad, requested them to stop the vehicle but they didn't heed and continued to proceed. The complainant along with his friends chased and stopped them near the Hindustan Marble shop in Karmanghat.

Yousuf and Nissar started abusing Mayuresh and his friends and picked up a quarrel. In response, Mayuresh and his friends attacked them with iron rods. In this altercation, the driver of the Bolero vehicle, Lingamaiah received head injuries.

On seeing this, Mayuresh panicked and ran away along with his friends to the nearby Hanuman temple in Karmanghat. Yousuf and Nissar called their friends Nawaz, Gouse, Ayub, and Kamal to the spot. They attacked Mayuresh and his friends in the temple. Mayuresh and his friends sustained minor injuries in the attack.

After this incident, a large number of people from one community gathered at Hanuman Temple, Karmanghat to protest against the incident.

When the police tried to pacify the mob, they started chanting slogans and pelting stones. Several police officers got injured. They included SI Madhava Reddy of Vanasthalipuram Police Station who suffered a skull fracture. He was immediately rushed to the nearest hospital for treatment. Later the police pacified the mob.

Just after the incident, seven people were arrested. They have been identified as Mohammad Yousuf (50) from Bhavani Nagar in Hyderabad, Mohammad Nissar (19), Mohammad Nawaz (23), Mohammad Gouse (23) of Santhosh Nagar in Hyderabad, Mohammad Ayub (20) of Santhosh Nagar Colony in Hyderabad, Mohammad Mosin Kamal (35) of Saidabad in Hyderabad, and driver of the Bolero Soudamoni Lingamaiah (26) of Ranga Reddy.

Cases have also been registered against cow vigilantes who damaged police vehicles and grievously injured Vanasthalipuram SI.

Social Media Conundrum

According to a senior official at Rachakonda Commissionerate, tension spiked after photographs and videos were shared on social media platforms.

However, BJP said that whatever their workers posted and shared on social media was a fact. "We always go by the fact. Whatever happened, we filmed it by mobile phone. The constitution has given us the freedom to express ourselves. We have the freedom to share whatever is happening," said A Venkata Ramana, In-charge of BJP's Telangana State Information & Technology Department.

After the incident, the Rachakonda Cybercrime Police department sent notices to different social media platforms to remove these posts and handle them. Many of these posts are still available on Twitter.

Notice sent by Rachakonda Cyber Crime to Twitter regarding handle @Hyndavitreddy.

"People don't know where to stop. In the spur of the moment, we share posts that can cause disharmony in society. Social media posts are like a bullet of a gun, if it goes off, it will damage someone. Without knowing the fact, many people start sharing these posts," said Senior Police Officer of Rachakonda Commissionerate.

"We have sent notice to Twitter, which may create a communal tension," said S Harinath, SHO, Rachakonda Cyber Crime police station.

BJP alleged that their volunteers are being targeted. "Our volunteers are being harassed. They are being threatened. They wanted to show the happenings. It's their fundamental right to post the content. Only courts can decide whether it is wrong or right. Police can file the complaint. But BJP workers are being harassed," said A Venkata Ramana.

It should be mentioned that BJP leaders tried to visit Karmanghat. However, police took them into preventive detention. Former MLC and BJP leader N Ramchander Rao approached the court for the bail of the accused.

Flagging of opposition's tweet by police

Rachakonda cyber crime police have flagged many posts which are against the TRS government.

"BJP volunteers' Twitter accounts are being targeted by the Rachakonda Cyber Crime Police. This is against the freedom of speech and SC orders. I will take legal action against them (sic)," tweeted A Venkata Ramana with the screenshots of Twitter mail to the users.

"Police are biased. They are politically inclined. They target BJP volunteers. They are sending notices to Twitter. Police are working with TRS. In many instances, TRS workers attacked us on social media and we have also complained to the authorities. But no action was taken against any of them, which means they are biased and not professional. As an opposition party, we have to overcome this situation," said A Venkata Ramana.

Police said after receiving complaints, they send a notice for the removal of posts. "Thousands of posts appear on social media daily. We don't have the manpower to monitor every post. When someone puts out the complaint and after investigation, we send the notice to Twitter," said a senior police officer at Rachakonda Commissionerate.

The officer added that they also try to figure out the sensitivity of the matter. "When you continue to pour water in a glass it starts overflowing. Likewise, when similar kinds of posts are put up, it starts affecting the minds of people and can disturb harmony. That's why we keep track of these posts," said the officer.

BJP said volunteers follow all guidelines while sharing posts on social media. "We give instructions to our volunteers not to violate the guidelines either on Twitter, Facebook, or any other platform. We ask them to use parliamentary language. When TRS volunteers use unparliamentary language, police do not take action" said A Venkata Ramana.

"We don't see the political biases, we just comply with complaints after someone reaches us. If BJP is alleging police, it's baseless," said S Harinath, SHO, Rachakonda Cyber Crime police station.

Rachakonda police even flag the posts originating from outside the state. For instance, during the Hijab ban controversy in Karnataka, Rachakonda Cyber Crime sent notices to Twitter flagging some of the posts.

"Hyderabad is a communally sensitive place. Whatever complaint we receive from the city, we check it carefully. We flag some of the posts on Twitter which may cause disharmony," said S Harinath.

It should be mentioned that Hyderabad police in June 2021, had sent a notice to Instagram and registered a case against the admin of the Instagram page 'revanth_sainyam_telangana' for posting a morphed image of Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao.

KCR's face was morphed into the image of a poor farmer holding a patta passbook. Telangana Rashtra Samithi IT cell handler Achyut had filed a complaint against the Instagram page.

"We have booked a case under Section 469 of the IT Act (forgery, intending that the document or electronic record forged shall harm the reputation of any party, or knowing that it is likely to be used for that purpose). Notice has been sent to Instagram and we are awaiting their response. Accordingly, we will call the person for inquiry," said K.V.M Prasad, the ACP of cybercrime

Speaking to NewsMeter, the admin of the page said he had shared the photograph that was already circulating on social media. "Earlier, one of the leading newspapers in Telangana had shared a morphed image of former health minister and TRS leader Eatala Rajender. He too was shown as a poor farmer holding the patta passbook. The same image has been again morphed by someone with KCR's face and later shared on social media. I took the same from social media and shared it on my page which went viral," said Vamsidhar Reddy, the admin of 'revanth_sainyam_telangana'.

He added that the page is dedicated to Congress MP A. Revanth Reddy and has been sharing posts about his work as well as problems faced by the general public. "TRS party members did not like the post related to KCR and that's why I have been booked," said Vamsidhar.

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