BJP Leaders Line up to Support Arrested Postcard News Founder
The website Postcard News has also been known for spreading fake stories in the past.
Hours after the Bengaluru Central Crime Branch (CCB) arrested Mahesh Vikram Hegde, the founder of fake news website Postcard News on Thursday, 29 March, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders condemned the arrest and demanded his release.
Taking to Twitter, Minister of State for Skill Development Anantkumar Hegde said, "Shame on the state government led by Siddaramaiah, which is behaving in dictatorial terms in arresting Mahesh Vikram Hegde. Ensure to follow the true democratic spirit in fighting us rather than doing a coward act. #ReleaseMaheshHegde (sic)”.
The police said Hegde was arrested for a false news story that he and the website posted on social media sites on 18 March, claiming that a Jain monk had been attacked by a Muslim youth.
The website has also been known for spreading fake stories in the past.
BJP MLA CT Ravi also spoke against the arrest.
"Today morning, the coward Congress government in Karnataka arrested Mahesh Vikram Hegde under the unconnected section 66 of the IT Act, that too by using CCB! Shame on you (sic)," BJP MP Pratap Simha tweeted.
As support poured in, the hashtag #ReleaseMaheshHegde began trending on Twitter. Many prominent BJP handles started using the hashtag. Hegde’s Twitter account is followed my many BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
BJP Mahila Morcha's National Executive member Priti Gandhi tweeted, "Shame on you Siddaramaiah for targeting common citizens who ask uncomfortable questions, which you can't answer! This pride will surely have a fall!"
Alt-News founder Pratik Sinha tweeted an image of what seemed like a WhatsApp conversation, and said that there were "fervent appeals to trend #ReleaseMaheshHegde on BJP WhatsApp Groups", in support of Hegde.
The police said that a Jain monk who had come for the Shravanabelagola festival had met with an accident on 13 March, but Postcard News published a status message on social media stating that he had been attacked by Muslim youth.
The post read, “Very sad news, yesterday in Karnataka Jain muni attacked by muslim youth …. No one is safe in Siddaramaiah’s Karnataka”.
Bengaluru Police Commissioner Suneel Kumar said Hegde had been arrested under IPC Sections 153a (wantonly giving provocation with the intent to cause riot), 34 (common intention) and 120b (for criminal conspiracy), and Section 66 (dishonest act) of the IT Act.
Another FIR was registered with the Sanjay Nagar Police Station under Sections 153a and 295a( Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the IPC.
(This was first published on The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)
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