The Hyderabad City Police’s cyber crime wing on Tuesday, 13 December, conducted a raid at the Madhapur office of Congress political strategist Sunil Kanugolu.
Three senior staff members of his staff were taken into custody and shifted to the Nampally Police Station late on Tuesday night.
Electronic devices including laptops were seized from Kanugolu’s office, according to Telangana Congress leaders.
The leaders as well as police sources told South First that the raids came after the cyber crime department received several complaints over social media posts on pages allegedly run by Kanugolu’s team, which engages in election management and political consultancy for Congress.
Two firms — INClusive Minds and MindShare Analytics — run their operations from the office premises that were raided on Tuesday.
Posts of alleged derogatory and critical nature against Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao are said to have led to complaints against the firm.
Who is Sunil Kanugolu?
Kanugolu, a founding member of the organisation Citizens for Accountable Governance (CAG) along with Prashant Kishor and the Association of Brilliant Minds (ABM) that led poll strategy for the BJP, started his own firm — MindShare Analytics — after exiting the latter company.
INClusive Minds, another campaign management firm, was started specifically as part of his association with the Congress.
Kanugolu currently heads election management for the Telangana and Karnataka units of the Congress, and is a member of the party’s task force.
“The in-house team of Inclusive Minds runs a page called Telangana Galam. This page has lots of content, some of which the police objected to,” one of the employees of Inclusive Minds told South First.
Meanwhile, Congress leaders called this vindictive action by KCR against the party and its strategist Kanugolu.
What happened on Tuesday evening?
The raid is said to have started around 7:30 pm and went on till 10 pm.
“Around five men in plain clothes arrived at our office. Initially, they did not let us leave the office premises but later they did. Only some Congress leaders and our team members stayed back. Everyone was anxious about what was happening suddenly,” an employee told South First.
About 300 employees work at INClusive Minds in shifts.
Congress leaders Mallu Ravi, Mohammed Ali Shabbir and Anil Kumar Yadav rushed to the spot after coming to know about the raid.
“We have been asking the police to tell us on what basis, whose complaint the office was raided. There are five male officers without any FIR copy, uniform, ID, or notice. How can we believe that they are cops? We have women staff working here and these men have created an atmosphere of fear,” Mohammed Shabbir Ali told South First on the situation. He was still in the office while speaking to South First.
What did the police say?
Assistant Commissioner of Police Prasad Rao told reporters, “We received five complaints that derogatory posts were being made on the opponent party.”
He added: “We were able to trace the posts that were uploaded from here.”
The ACP, however, did not mention which party filed the complaint.
Meanwhile, the cops seized the laptops and computers of the employees.
They also made them switch off their mobile phones during the raid.
Telangana Congress president and Member of Parliament Revanth Reddy said that the presence of the cyber wing of the city police at Kanugolu’s office “clearly indicates how terrified KCR is” of the Congress.
— Revanth Reddy (@revanth_anumula) December 13, 2022
పార్లమెంట్లో తెలంగాణ కాంగ్రెస్ చీఫ్ రేవంత్ రెడ్డి @revanth_anumulaపై ఆర్థిక మంత్రి సహా ఇద్దరు సీనియర్ బీజేపీ నేతలు టార్గెట్ చేశారు
ఇప్పుడు తెలంగాణలో కాంగ్రెస్ వ్యూహకర్త కార్యాలయాలపై బీ-టీమ్ తెరాస దాడులు చేసి సీజ్ చేస్తోంది.తెరాస-బీజేపీల భయం కాంగ్రెస్ గెలుపును సూచిస్తుంది! pic.twitter.com/LCiZToio2r
— Telangana Congress (@INCTelangana) December 13, 2022