Police have arrested Karnataka Congress social media coordinator B R Naidu, information technology cell member Gagan Yadav and three others in connection with the PayCM posters pasted in parts of Bengaluru.
The posters resembled the design and logo of Paytm, a digital payments company, and were found plastered on walls and at bus stops on Wednesday morning. They contained an image of Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai in a QR code format and if scanned, the image directed people to the 40percentsarkara.com website launched by the Congress.
Deputy commissioner of police (central) R Srinivas Gowda said Thursday that five people had been arrested in connection with the five FIRs registered in various police stations. Three others were detained for questioning and booked under preventive sections, he added.
Cases were booked under Indian Penal Code section 290 (public nuisance), section 3 of Karnataka Open Places Disfigurement Act and section 3(1) of Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
The posters are part of a Congress campaign alleging widespread corruption in awarding contracts for government works and in recruitment.
According to a police source, Bommai has expressed his unhappiness with the city’s intelligence unit over the fact that the posters had been put up.
He ordered an inquiry into them on Wednesday and termed the campaign as a ploy to malign his name and that of Karnataka.
A complaint by municipal corporation officials said the posters had been plastered by some unknown persons without obtaining the corporation’s permission and spoiled the city’s beauty. Moreover, putting up hoardings, banners, posters in the city limits is banned as the matter is pending before the high court, it said.
Congress state president D K Shivakumar expressed anger at the arrests and detentions of party workers. The party said the police picked up Naidu from his house around midnight. Shivakumar also said that 100 legislators would paste PayCM posters at public spaces including government offices on Friday.
Congress spokesperson Ramesh Babu took a dig at Bommai over the arrests saying anyone who does not tolerate criticism by people cannot be a mass leader. “Such dictatorial tendencies are an insult to democracy,” Babu tweeted.
Videos of police removing the posters have gone viral on social media platforms.