Recently, days after elections were conducted in Telangana, a few journalists got a tip off that some EVMs were being transported from the Jagtial Tahsildar’s office to a warehouse in an autorickshaw. The journalists managed to capture photos and videos of the incident, and when this was widely shared, it created a big controversy, with politicians crying foul.

The Chief Electoral Officer ordered an inquiry into the incident, and CEO Rajat Kumar later clarified that the EVMs which were transported were used to train the polling staff, and were not actually used for the elections. M-2 machines used to train the polling staff whereas M-3 machines were used in the Lok Sabha elections.

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Now, the Jagitial Urban Tahsildhar Subash Chander, on the instruction of the District Collector, has filed a complaint against nine journalists for publishing ‘fake news’ – Velugu reporter Gopikrishna Rao, Andhra Jyothi photographer Sridhar, Sakshi reporter Ch Naresh, Siti Cable reporter Harikrishna, TV5 reporter Raji Reddy, Cable TV reporter Mahesh, ABN Bheerpur reporter A. Venugopal, Mojo TV reporter Hyder and Andhra Jyothi Bheerpur reporter Ravikumar.

The Jagtial police booked the journalists for trespassing and obstructing officials from discharging their duties under sections 447, 186 and 505 (2) of the IPC.

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Jagtial falls under Nizamabad Lok Sabha Constituency, where Kalvakuntla Kavitha, sitting MP and daughter of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao recontested.

Journalists’ unions in the state have condemned the police action. The Telangana Union of Working Journalists (TUWJ) in its statement said, “The activities of the revenue officials was suspicious and the journalists who got to know about the incident, reported the news in the interest of the people. In an attempt to hide their faults, officials have filed a false complaint against them.”

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TUWJ General Secretary Virahat also said that a delegation would meet the DGP urging them to drop the case.

Speaking to #KhabarLive, Amar Devulapalli, senior journalist and president of Indian Journalist Union (IJU) said, “There has been a clampdown on civil rights under the present government. Police have been foisting cases against writers, activists and journalists who speak against the government. This is unfortunate.” #KhabarLive