Kolkata: Concerned over “sensitive” social media posts amid the COVID-19 lockdown, the Andaman and Nicobar Police in the last week have made several arrests, including senior government officials, their relatives, a policeman’s son and a journalist.
It started with a communally sensitive message circulated last week through WhatsApp groups. A few days ago, a unanimous caller informed the officer-in-charge of Aberdeen police station in Port Blair about these sensitive messages.
During investigation it was found that the massage was circulated by the wife of a fire department official. Further investigation revealed that the message was circulated by her relatives and friends.
All of them were arrested under Sections 153A/188/505 IPC and 51B of Disaster Management At. They were produced before the court and later released on bail. Their mobile phones has been seized and sent to CFSL for retrieving the data/content.
During the investigation the police got a further shock when they found that a senior official at the Deputy Commissioner’s office in South Andaman is involved in ‘posting communally sensitive and instigating tweet to disrupt public harmony’.
A statement issued by the Andaman police reads, “We have taken action against a staff posted at DC office for ‘posting communally sensitive and instigating tweet to disrupt public harmony’ vide FIR no – 232/20 dated April 25 under section 188, 269 IPC and 51 Disaster Management Act. He was arrested and released on bail.”
During the ongoing investigation two more people including the son of a police constable and a journalist were found guilty of posting communally sensitive social media posts.
While the police constable’s son was arrested on April 24, the journalist was booked on April 27. Both of them were produced before the court and released on bail with warnings.
It was learnt that the journalist landed in trouble for his couple of tweets, which reads, “Can someone explain why families are placed under home quarantine for speaking over phone with COVID patients.”
His second tweet reads, “Request #COVID19 quarantined persons not to call any acquaintance over phone. People are being traced and quarantined on the basis of phone calls.”
He allegedly tweeted after gone through an article in a local news portal in Port Blair.
Speaking to the News18, Director General of Police, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dependra Pathak said, “We have made series of arrests in last one week. I would like to appeal all to avoid posting sensitive messages on social media. It is unfortunate that people working in government establishments and holding responsible positions are doing it in Andaman.
On action against the journalist, he said “His tweet is serious in nature and it’s an attempt to discourage people to come forward to help the administration with truth – in case they have COVID-19 symptoms.
“Their social media posts were found to spread mistrust about the protocols being followed by the administration and thereby pursuing people not to cooperate in the screening process or give false statements, defeating the efforts of contact tracing, endangering the COVID-19 containment process and also the lives of citizens at large.”
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