The Andhra Pradesh government on Friday filed criminal cases against a local television channel and initiated moves to shut down its transmission for triggering violence and arson on Thursday night.
The channel, TV5, alleged in a report that the Reliance group had a hand in the helicopter crash that killed former chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy. The report was based on a story on a Russian website, exiledonline.com, in September.
TV5 is owned by B. Rajagopal Naidu, a former BHEL employee known to be close to both Telugu Desam Party chief and opposition leader N. Chandrababu Naidu and YSR.
The report led to violence and attack on both Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries and Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group establishments across the state.
State police chief R.R. Girish Kumar said nine properties were attacked in Hyderabad alone. The largest number of attacks took place in YSR’s native Kadapa district.
While two cases have been filed against the channel, the police also served show-cause notices to half-a-dozen other channels for following up on the unverified story and arrested 289 people.
Reliance Industries Ltd issued a denial on Friday, saying, “We condemn, rebut and reject the allegation with the contempt it deserves.”
The company, however, alleged that it was the “dirty handiwork of our business rivals in cahoots with TV5”.
The Editors Guild of India expressed concern in a statement issued on Friday over “the manner in which some news channels have broadcast reports based on completely unsubstantiated allegations”.
The guild said such reporting went against the basic principles of journalism.
Chief Minister K. Rosaiah has asked the Centre to expedite the CBI investigation into Reddy’s death, as the delay is leading to various “conspiracy theories”.