Coimbatore city police have arrested the owner of a local online portal for an alleged ‘false report’ they published on their website, officials said on Friday.
Andrew Sam Raja Pandian, founder and editor of ‘Simplicity,’ was arrested on Thursday on a complaint filed by a M Sundararajan, an assistant commissioner with the city municipal corporation, citing that reports published on the website were false and that they were to instigate people against the government.
The complaint was based on two reports. One of them was in connection with PG doctors while the other was regarding ration shop employees.
The complaint said both reports were widely circulated on social media and were instigating government doctors, health department staff and ration shop employees against the government. Sundararajan’s complaint further argued that the “false” report could have led to a doctors’ strike at a time when the role of frontline health workers role in fighting COVID-19 was crucial. The complaint also added that one of the other reports may have triggered a strike by ration shop employees.
Pandian was booked under sections 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 505 (i) (b) (with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against public tranquillity) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and also under Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897. After his arrest on Thursday night, he was taken to a sub-jail in the city early on Friday.
Senior Opposition leaders in the state, including DMK chief M K Stalin, condemned the arrest of Pandian. Terming the move as illegal, Stalin hit out at AIADMK minister S P Velumani, who is representing AIADMK from Coimbatore, saying he was misusing the police force to silence the media. He also demanded the immediate release of Pandian.
Earlier, two journalists working for the portal had been picked up for questioning in connection with a “nuisance call” to a woman. Following a protest by journalists, both the photographer and the journalist were released late on Thursday night.
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