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‘Defamatory posts against KCR govt, many FIRs’ – why Congress’ Telangana war room was raided

The Opposition said the raids aimed to suppress dissent & democracy, and were triggered by a post alluding to KCR daughter’s ‘association’ with the Delhi liquor scam.

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Hyderabad: Hyderabad cops on Tuesday night raided the office of Congress’ political strategist Sunil Kanugolu for allegedly making “defamatory posts” against Chief Minister K. Hyderabad’s government.

The Congress called for large-scale protests Wednesday, labelling the raid on its “war room” as an “illegal attack”. Lok Sabha MP and Telangana Congress Chief Revanth Reddy, MP Uttam Kumar Reddy and others said they would lay “siege” on KCR’s Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) head office that is being inaugurated by KCR on Wednesday.

Congress workers said cops acted Tuesday night on the chief minister’s orders in a bid to suppress dissent, and to punish them for questioning his governance.

A few party workers were placed under house arrest before the protests could begin in the state.

Rajya Sabha member and the party’s General Secretary K.C. Venugopal tweeted a scene from Tuesday’s raid in Kanugolu’s IT hub office, ‘INClusive Minds’, which employs over 150 people.

He wrote: “The action of police in seizing the office of #SunilKanugolu is a blatant attempt to suppress dissent. It is aimed at defunctioning @INCTelangana war room which is in full swing. Come what may, we will continue our crusade against corruption by Telangana CM & his family.”

Calling KCR a “South Indian Hitler”, Congress Lok Sabha MP and AICC in-charge of Telangana, Manickam Tagore, moved an adjournment motion in the House on Wednesday, also alleging that Hyderabad’s cyber police had arrested five people.

“The House should give priority to discuss the atrocious attitude of Telangana Police who have arrested 5 people entering vehemently into the Telangana Congress war room in Hyderabad yesterday. The arrest was done on the basis of a FB post against CM Telangana without a search warrant or without any notice under 41A CRPC,” Tagore said in the motion notice.

“The House should also direct the state government to stop such activities of Chandrasekhar Rao, Telangana Government who has been behaving completely with autocratic nature as well as act as (like) South Indian Hitler,” he added.

Tagore also claimed that nearly 50 computers were seized, important data was stolen and arrests made without any FIRs.

Tagore tweeted a post, taking a dig at KCR’s daughter Kalvakuntla Kavitha’s alleged role in the Delhi liquor scam, and challenged the cops to arrest him. He said the party’s “war room” was raided after this particular post.

The post captions a photo of KCR and Kavitha next to an array of liquor bottles – “Ab ki baar, liquor ka sarkaar”.

Hyderabad Cyber Crimes Assistant Commissioner K.V.M. Prasad said there was clear evidence of Kanugolu’s office making “defamatory posts’ against the KCR government.

“Fake profiles were created and posts were put (on social media) against the Telangana government through those profiles. These were defamatory posts, very insulting posts. We have clear evidence that the operation was carried out from this office and hence we raided it,” Prasad said.

“We have filed 4 to 5 FIRs in this case, there were several complainants,” he added.

Calling the raids an attack on “democracy”, Telangana Congress chief Revanth Reddy said the police were “terrorising” the staff and that the war room had confidential data about party affairs.

He tweeted: “Cyber police terrorising the staff at @INCIndia war room clearly indicates how terrified KCR is of #Congress What an irony that @TelanganaCMO, his son & daughter have all been preaching about democracy & freedom of speech in recent times.”

Police sources told ThePrint that some digital devices were seized in the raids. Prasad said three office bearers were also detained.

Former Congress MP Mallu Ravi, who was present at the time of raids, told ThePrint: “The cops came in civil dress… without showing us any FIR or telling us about the complaints, they conducted raids. The minimum requirement is that they show us an FIR, (but) they didn’t respond when we asked them. How can they take away cell phones and computers just like that?”

“The cops sealed the office after evicting the staff. None of us are even being allowed to go to that floor,” a staff member told ThePrint.

Sunil Kanugolu, a low-profile political strategist, is also working with the Congress in Karnataka ahead of next year’s Assembly polls. The 40-year old has given the blueprint for over a dozen elections for national and regional parties so far.

Kanugolu handled poll strategy in about nine elections for the Bharatiya Janata Party. One of which was the 2017 Uttar Pradesh poll campaign. He has also worked with the DMK, the Akali Dal, the AIADMK and now the Congress.

As Opposition angst over the raid spills over in Telangana, Chief Minister KCR was in Delhi Wednesday to inaugurate his renamed party BRS’ (Bharat Rashtra Samithi) office in the capital. Going national, he has projected the Telangana model of development for the country, with his party colleagues now calling him a “desh ka neta”.

Also read: Young, reclusive, ‘brilliant’ — meet Sunil Kanugolu, the ‘other Prashant Kishor’ of Congress


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