Six Andhra Pradesh journalists arrested in Prakasam district for falsely propagating corrosion damage to a temple arch as an alleged attack have been locked up for a day and are likely to get bail later on Friday, an official said.
“The six false news propagating journalists have been locked up for a day in Markapuram, they may receive bail today (Friday),” Assistant Superintendent of Police B. Ravichandra told IANS.
On Wednesday, Singarayakonda police arrested Maddasani Moulali, truck driver, Ambati Siva Kumar, journalist from Bahujana Media, Sagi Srinivasa Rao (Dhrama Vyuham newspaper), Popuri Kiran (ABN Andhra Jyoti Telugu news channel reporter), S. K. Bashu (NTV) and Katragadda Rammohan (HMTV) for disseminating falsehoods.
“For spreading falsehoods on social media and spreading lies on television and hurting the sentiments of devotees based on the rumours spread by a local,” said an official about the reports they allegedly falsely propagated that two idols were damaged at Singarayakonda Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy arch.
They were arrested under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 120 (B), 295 (A), 504 read with 34 and Section 16 of the Cable Network Act.
“Some people belonging to YouTube channels and the reporters of ABN, TV 5 (and) ETV, legal action will be taken against them for posting conspiratorial posts on social media, on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter etc and broadcasting fallacious news on television regarding the abovesaid incident,” said Ravichandra.
Amid reports of unverified alleged attacks on temples in the state, Ravichandra on Tuesday warned rumour mongers against spreading falsehoods about the local temple and explained how it got damaged due to corrosion and not vandalism.
“The arms of Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy and Mother Goddess, which were part of the arch broke and fell down due to corrosion,” said Ravichandra.
He said the temple was originally built during the reign of Sri Krishnadevaraya, to which an arch was added two decades ago.
The temple’s executive officer Sri Bhairagi confirmed that corrosion caused parts of the idols to break off.
According to Bhairagi, the arch is being repaired every year with the help of donors, but last year (in 2020), the arch could not be repaired as Brahmotsavalu were not held due to coronavirus.
On Tuesday morning, without confirming the information from any official authority or the police department, a local Telugu news channel repeatedly ran the news alleging another attack on the temple.
“Those who spread untruths without knowing the facts about the incident, those who behave in a way that disturbs public peace and security, those who create clashes between two communities must be prosecuted, arrested and charged,” said the ASP.
Despite the warning, a few journalists went ahead with the false news.
Ravichandra said that a Telugu news channel reported in October that the same idols were damaged without human interference and due to the elements.
“No one should broadcast false information without knowing the facts from the concerned authorities and no one should spread untrue statements and should not play with the sentiments of the devotees and the public,” said the officer.
He reiterated his warning and asked the public to call 100 about false propaganda and suspicious movements.
The district police also cracked down on another old temple attack case on Thursday, arresting three more people for trespassing into Tarlupadu Veera Bhadra Swamy temple on October 17.
Nellapudi Rama Krishna Chari, 37, Rahamath, 42 and Yellanki Ramesh Chandra, 45, were arrested for entering the temple and attempting to remove the kalasam (urn).