Hyderabad police have made Congress strategist Sunil Kanugolu the prime accused in the cases registered over derogatory posts on Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, his daughter K. Kavitha and others.
On the basis of confessions of three persons taken into custody during a raid at an office in Madhapur on Tuesday night, Cyber crime police made him the prime accused.
Additional Commissioner of Police Vikram Singh Mann told reporters that Kanugolu is absconding. On the protest by the Congress, he clarified that the police acted in accordance with the law.
The police officer said the police were not aware that it was the social media office of the Congress party. He said there was no office name or board at the premises.
The officer said the accused were secretly operating from Mind Share United Foundation building in Madhapur and they were traced using the cyber crime tools as part of the investigation in the complaints about derogatory posts.
Monda Sriprathap, Shashank Kakineni, and Ishant Sharma were taken into custody by the police and they confessed that they were working under Kanugolu. The accused were issued notices under Section 41 of Criminal Procedure Code.
The accused have been booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 469 (forgery for purpose of harming reputation) and 505 (2) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes).
Five cases were registered against the accused at Cyber Crime Police Station and four other police stations in the city.
The officer said 10 laptops, CPUs and mobile phones were seized. He claimed that this was done in a legal way.
“Criticism in democracy is an accepted system. Political criticism is healthy but this kind of post personally targeting leaders with no regard for women is not criticism. This is outright abuse. If somebody wants to criticise, they should be bold to reveal their identity,” he said.
Mann said the abusive posts were not targeting just one party. “They were not revealing their identity. They were using false names or very generic names. Since social media companies are located abroad, it was very difficult to trace them. Using cybercrime tools we traced them. This is the first step. If there are complaints, we will book more cases,” he said.
Asked if the leaders of the ruling party lodged complaints with the police, the officer said: “Complaints were received on their behalf. You don’t expect Prime Minister Narendra Modi garu to come to the CCS office and give a complaint.”
Tuesday night’s police raid has evoked strong protest from the Congress party. It termed it as an attack on democracy and organised protests across Telangana.