Postcard News founder Mahesh Vikram Hegde arrested for spreading fake news
Bengaluru: Bengaluru Central Crime Branch arrested Mahesh Vikram Hegde, founder of news website Postcardnews, known for spreading fake stories on Thursday evening.
Bengaluru Police Commissioner Suneel Kumar confirmed to TNM that Hegde was arrested for a story that he had carried on March 18 claiming that a Jain monk had been attacked.
The arrest was made on the basis of a false news story published on March 18. According to police, a Jain monk who had come for the Shravanabelagola festival had met with an accident on March 13, but Postcard News published a status message on social media stating that he had been attacked by Muslim youth.
He was arrested based on two complaints – one of which was filed on March 18 by Gaffar Baig, the General Secretary Bengaluru District Congress Committee.
Another complaint was filed in Sanjay Nagar against a story published by Postcard News about Rani Chennamma and Onake Obava.
“Yes, it is true, he was arrested based on the Jain muni post. The Jain muni was hit by a car while he was walking on the road. He was not hit by Muslim youth as claimed by Hegde,” said the police official.
Based on a complaint the police have registered an FIR and are investigating the matter.
A social media post, both by Postcard news and founder Hegde stated, ““Very sad news, yesterday in Karantaka Jain muni attacked by muslim youth …. No one is safe in Siddaramaiah’s Karnataka.”
“The Jain muni was hit by a drunk man riding a motor cycle. The Jain muni was on his was to Shravanabelagola for the Mahamatsabhisheka. He had sustained minor injuries on his right shoulder and arm and also on his face. Locals administered first aid and sent them to Shravanabelagola. Upon learning that the Jain Muni was hurt, postcard news published a story alleging that the Jain Muni was attacked by Muslim youth. This was published on social media. Many people have read this story. This was intended to tarnish the reputation of the government and also disrupt communal harmony,” states the FIR.
The Commissioner said that Hegde had been arrested under three sections. He has been arrested under IPC sections 153a (wantonly giving provocation with the intent to cause riot), 295a (for deliberately intending to insult religious beliefs) and 120b (for criminal conspiracy).
The arrest comes at a time when Karnataka is all set for assembly elections and there is a deluge of fake news. Postcard News has come under fire from Congress leaders and many others in the state for deliberately exaggerating or reporting false news stories, especially on communal events.
BJP MP Pratap Simha had on Thursday evening tweeted claiming that Hegde was arrested under section 66 of the IT Act. However, this is not the case, with the Postcard News founder only being arrested under the three IPC sections.