The man was booked under section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code (sedition) and under 505 (1) (b) (disturbing public tranquility). (Representational Image)
A 53-year-old man was arrested on the charges of sedition for allegedly spreading rumours over power cuts on a social media platform in Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh, police said.
The accused, identified as Mangelal Agarwal, was arrested on Thursday evening under IPC sections 124 A (sedition) and 505 (1) (2), following a complaint filed by Chhattisgarh State Power Holding Company Limited (CSPHCL), a local police official said.
On June 12, the power company had lodged a complaint with City Kotwali police station in Rajnandgaon town that a video had gone viral on social media in which an unidentified man was deliberately spreading rumours and false information in a bid to tarnish the image of Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel.
In the video allegedly posted by Mangelal, a native of Musra village under Dongargarh police station area, on his Facebook account, he is heard saying, "The Bhupesh Baghel-led government and Madhya Pradesh government had allegedly colluded with inverter manufacturing companies to increase its sales by doing frequent power cuts in the respective states."
"Inverter companies had allegedly given money to the state government to cut power supply for every 2 hours or after 10 to 15 minutes. As the frequency of power cuts will increase so will the sales of the inverter. This news is true because in Delhi there was a meeting of inverter companies with the state government...," he purportedly said in the video.
The CSPHCL in its complaint has said that an attempt was made to spread hatred against the state government and disrespect it through the video.
The mobile through which video was recorded has been seized, the official said. Agarwal will be produced in a local court Friday, he added.
Meanwhile, the opposition BJP condemned the Congress government and accused it of trying to suppress freedom of expression.
"While the Congress had promised to repeal the sedition law, the party itself is now misusing it to implicate and threaten common men. If spreading rumours is such a big offence, then so far several Congressmen should have been put behind bars. Congress was elected to power through false campaign only," said Santosh Pandey, BJP MP from Rajnandgaon Lok Sabha seat.
"The people of the state have been bearing the brunt of frequent power cuts. It is a failure of the Congress. When people are opposing it, then in frustration, the Congress government has taken such action," Pandey added.
Chairman of the state power companies, Shailendra Kumar Shukla, has appealed to the people not to believe in such false propaganda over power cuts.
"Personnel of the state's power generation, transmission and distribution companies have been engaged to ensure regular power supply to consumers. People should not believe in such false news and rumors regarding the power cuts which can be due to natural phenomenon like storms or other local reasons," he said.
Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board was restructured into five companies - distribution, generation, holding, transmission and trading, in 2008. Shukla is chairman of all five companies.