A day after a man was arrested on sedition charges over his social media post on power cuts in Chhattisgarh, a journalist was Friday held for publishing a “false” news over electricity supply in Mahasamund district.
Dilip Sharma, who runs an online news portal, was arrested based on a complaint lodged by Executive Engineer (EE) of electricity department, Mahasamund, S K Sahu, a police officer said.
In his complaint lodged on Thursday, Sahu had alleged that Sharma, in a recently published news, had claimed that there was a blackout in more than 50 villages in Mahasamund for 48 hours which was “false and baseless”, Sub Divisional Officer of Police (SDOP) Mahasamund, Narad Kumar Suryawanshi, told PTI.
Sharma was booked under IPC section 505 (1) (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 the public tranquility), he said.
Sharma was produced in a local court which granted him bail, he added.
Talking to PTI after his release, Sharma alleged he was being implicated in a false case.
He claimed he had published an “authentic” news about the blackout for 48 hours in villages of Bagbahra area in Mahasamund from June 6 to June 8.
Additional General Manager (Public Relations) of Chhattisgarh State Power Holding Company, Vijay Mishra, said according to the state government’s policy, the power utility has been supplying 24 hours of electricity in cities as well as villages.
Despite that some anti-social elements have been trying to defame power company by spreading false information of blackout, he alleged.
“Power cuts can be due to natural phenomenon like storms or some other local reasons. Presently pre-monsoon maintenance work is underway, for which sometimes power supply has to be withheld. But there is no question of power cut as Chhattisgarh is a power surplus state,” Mishra asserted.
Meanwhile, the opposition BJP accused the Congress government of murdering the freedom of expression in the state.
“The Congress is not able to digest its loss in the Lok Sabha election. It has become intolerant. It is trying to murder freedom of expression in the state which is evident in the cases involving Mangelal Agarwal and Dilip Sharma,” state BJP chief Vikram Usendi said.
“It is a political character of Congress to murder freedom of expression and whenever it comes to power to shows its nature,” he claimed.
The action against Sharma came a day after 53-year-old Mangelal Agarwal was arrested in Rajnandgaon district on Thursday evening on the charges of sedition for allegedly spreading rumours over power cuts on a social media platform.
However, facing criticism over the action, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel Friday directed the police to withdraw charges of sedition from the case.