This could be the most bizarre news of the day. Andhra Pradesh CID arrested law student Chaganti Rahul Reddy under the Information Technology Act and the Indian Penal Code for his Facebook comments on cyclone Hudhud that they termed were ‘anti-people’.

Vishakhapatnam, the largest city in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh often called as “The Jewel of the East Coast” was recently hit by the massive cyclone Hudhud – named after a bird in Quran - when it hit the port city at 180-200 Kmph.  According to CM N Chandrababu Naidu, the initial estimates indicated that financial losses can go up to Rs 70,000 crore. It will take months for Vizak to bounce back along with the hard work state government is doing.

While it is a national calamity, some of the YSR Congress fans who are in opposition are celebrating the damage caused by Hudhud Cyclone. It was reported that a handful of YSR Congress supporters have let out hatred posts on Facebook enjoying the destruction of Hudhud Cyclone as their party honorary president YS Vijayamma lost the election from Vishakapatnam.

This has not gone down well with the Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police J.Ramudu and directed the department to file Cyber Crime cases on them for being insensitive to the suffering of the people.

The police have been on a hunt specially for Rahul Reddy Chaganti and Gopi Sainadh Reddy who posted such hate comments and also others who ‘Liked’ those posts. One of the Facebook post that Rahul Reddy made was “I love u hudhoodh…” and “nature was taking revenge against the betrayers.” Both of them have been arrested and remanded in judicial custody.

Meanwhile the CID has released a press release for the arrest and states that - “Mr Chaganti Rahul Reddy posted irresponsible, anti-people comments in Facebook after the natural disaster Hududh, further claiming that they were acting based on a complaint filed on 15 October that some Facebook users were posting derogatory comments on Facebook.”

The investigating agency has further told that Rahul Reddy was an activist of YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), an opposition party in Andhra Pradesh, and that he “closely moves with YSRCP District Student Wing.”

Making fun at a time when a state is going through a calamity isn’t human but is it an offense that would get people arrested for? This case brings back the long pending debate of whether a blanket apply of IT Act 66A is rational or should we have laws according to the times. Looking at the facts for now the case seems to have a political hand more than just being about a student posting on Facebook and getting arrested.

Prasant Naidu

Founder and Editor at Lighthouse Insights.

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