Bengaluru police arrest right wing influencer for allegedly peddling fake news intended to create hatred; BJP leaders protest action

He was arrested on charges of peddling fake news and allegedly provoking enmity between two groups through a post on X.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published May 19, 2024 | 2:38 PM Updated May 19, 2024 | 2:38 PM

Bengaluru police arrest Vinit Naik.

The cyber crime police in Bengaluru arrested Goa resident Vinit Naik on charges of peddling fake news and allegedly provoking enmity between two groups through his X account named BhikuMhatre (Modi’s Family).

Congress worker and Bengaluru resident J Saravanan had registered a complaint before the Bengaluru’s Cyber Crime Police against the X account with the username @MumbaichaDon on 29 April, 2024.

In his complaint, Saravanan accused Vinit of circulating fake news intending to create tensions between two religions.

The X post of Vinit used photographs of Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah delivering a speech to defame Congress, he alleged.

Naik’s arrest came to light when his son Nagesh Naik posted about it on X. He claimed that there was no pertinent FIR.

Responding to Nagesh post on X, several right-wing accounts criticised the Siddaramaiah government for the arrest.

BJP leaders including Union Minister Smriti Irani and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) chief and MP Tejasvi Surya lashed out at the Karnataka government and assured legal help to the accused.

Meanwhile, Vinit – hours before his arrest – had posted on X that he will take legal course to fight against this action.

Also Read: ‘You will be watched further,’ Bengaluru police threaten social worker

The case

The cyber crime police arrested Vinit on Saturday from his residence in Goa, acting on the complaint by the Congress leader.

In the complaint, Saravanan alleged: “The unknown person on 22 April, 2024, on X account BhikuMhatre (Modi’s Family) @mumbaichaDon has posted: ‘Throw this in face of Every Liberal and Every Piddi who was arguing that Congress Manifesto doesn’t mention “Mu$£ims” specifically and it includes SC/STs Also.”

Vinit Naik was booked for this post on X.

“He then added a photograph of CM’s (Siddaramaiah) speech and posted it. This post is mal-intended to bring animosity between Hindu and Muslims and create unrest in the society. This post is also intended to defame Congress,” Saravanan claimed.

Based on the complaint, Cyber Crime Police booked Vinit Naik under the Information Technology Act, 2000 and Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

According to police sources: “Vinit Naik has been arrested from his residence in Goa. He has been stationed in Hubballi and will be produced before the magistrate today (Sunday).”

“He has been arrested on the charges of peddling fake news and provoking animosity between two religions,” claimed the sources.

Court ordered removal of the post

On 13 May, the 45th Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACCM) of Bengaluru had directed the legal team of X to take down Vinit’s post.

In the court order, the ACMM directed X to provide the records of the account and remove the post from its platform.

In the court order, accessed by South First, the legal team of X had sent an email to the accused Vinit seeking his reply to the notice.

On 18 May, responding to the email Vinit said on X: “So it seems Congress wants to intimidate me for speaking Truth. I am ready to fight against any injustice and will take a full judicial course even if that means approaching the highest court, as I have never written anything which may be called inflammatory or communal.”

A few hours after posting this on X, Vinit was arrested from his residence.

Also Read: Vijayendra targets Siddaramaiah government over law and order situation

‘FIR is not pertinent’

Posting on X regarding his father’s arrest, Nagesh claimed that the FIR was not relevant.

He posted the FIR copy and said: “My father @MumbaichaDon has been arrested by @DGPKarnataka @CPBLr @BlrCityPolice.”

“A mail was sent by Twitter and suddenly in the evening the police showed up at the doorstep and took away my father! FIR is totally NOT pertinent!” said Nagesh, who concluded the post with a hashtag #ReleaseBhikuMhatre.

Responding to his post on X, BJP leaders including Irani assured him of extending legal help.

BJP criticises Siddaramaiah government

Assuring legal help BJP said that the Karnataka government was misusing power.

BJP’s IT cell chief Amit Malviya said on X: “Karnataka Police have arrested @MumbaichaDon from Goa. We are in touch with his family and will ensure he gets all legal support.”

“Congress has unleashed anarchy and is intolerant of dissent. But there won’t be another Emergency in this country, ever,” Malviya said criticising the Congress.

In her post on X, Smriti Irani said that she spoke to Surya regarding the case and assured legal support for the accused.

Meanwhile, Surya accused the Congress government of misusing power.

“We will fight this, both inside courts and outside,” said incumbent Bangalore South MP.

Accusing Siddaramaiah government of trying to enforce dictatorship, BJP’s Karnataka unit chief BY Vijayendra posted on X: “Citizens are already battered by the incessant murders, deteriorating law and order situation in the state.”

“Notwithstanding that, Siddaramaiah government is creating absolute mayhem trying to enforce its dictatorship in curbing the Freedom of Expression of innocent citizens,” Vijayendra added.

He said that the saffron party would provide full support to the accused.

(Edited by Muhammed Fazil)