TV channel editors arrested for inciting violence


Hyderabad : Andhra Pradesh police Friday night arrested two editors of Telugu television channel TV 5 for airing a “baseless and malicious” report about an alleged conspiracy behind the death of the then chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in a chopper crash last year. The report sparked violence in the state and attacks on Reliance stores.

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Crime Investigation Department (CID) arrested TV 5’s executive editor Brahmananda Reddy and input editor Venkat Krishna.

There was mild tension at the channel’s office as other employees tried to resist the arrests.

The arrests were made hours after police booked cases against the channel for airing the story based on a report on a Russian website.

Cases under sections 153/3A (provocation with intent to cause riot) and 502 A (sale of printed or engraved substance containing defamatory matter) were registered at Jubilee Hills police station here, police said.

Police also booked cases against two more vernacular channels for airing the “baseless” story.

Earlier, the government handed over the investigations against the channels to CID.

The report led to a series of attacks on Reliance stores throughout the state, since it had alleged a role by the company in the helicopter crash that killed YSR.

The police have booked 96 cases and arrested 185 people for the attacks on properties of both Reliance groups.

Home Minister P. Sabita Indra Reddy told reporters that the government would deal firmly with anyone breaking the law.

She said that Chief Minister K. Rosaiah spoke to Home Minister P. Chidambaram over telephone and asked him to speed up the probe by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the crash.

Police chief Girish Kumar warned that stern action would be taken against those indulging in violence. Prohibitory orders against assembly of people have been imposed in the state in view of the shutdown called by loyalists of the late chief minister in some districts.

He said investigations into the Sep 2 helicopter crash were continuing and appealed to people not to believe rumours.

YSR’s son and Kadapa MP Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy appealed to people not to resort to violence.

Meanwhile, leaders cutting across party lines condemned attacks on Reliance outlets and called for immediate steps to control television channels to prevent such incidents.

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president N. Chandrababu Naidu alleged that the attacks on Reliance outlets were “pre-planned”.

State Congress chief D. Srinivas also condemned the mob violence and clarified that the party had no role in these incidents.

He said party leaders would now have to take permission from him before participating in debates on television.