A magistrate in the Hanamkonda district on Wednesday, 5 April, remanded Telangana BJP president Bandi Sanjay Kumar in judicial custody for 14 days — till 19 April — in connection with the Class X (SSC) Hindi question paper leak case.
This capped off an eventful day that started with his arrest in the early hours, which led to BJP protests and several leaders as well as activists of the party being arrested by the Telangana Police, who also took into custody several others it said were connected to the paper leak case.
The cops named Bandi Sanjay as accused number 1 in the paper leak case. He has been accused of conspiring to defame the state government.
The Hanamkonda police named 10 people — including Sanjay — as accused in the remand report.
A case under Sections 120B (conspiracy), 420 (cheating), 447 (criminal trespass), and 505 (public mischief), along with provisions of the TS Public Examination (Prevention of Malpractices) Act and IT Act were registered against him and nine others. A minor boy’s name was also included in the report.
The name of the BJP MLA Eatala Rajender and his two personal assistants also figured in the report.
The case was registered based on a complaint lodged by Kamalapur ZPHS Boy School Headmaster M Shiva Prasad.
The alleged conspiracy
The police said that Bandi Sanjay gave directions to another accused, Prashanth, to exploit the leaking of the Telugu question paper, which happened on Monday.
If something similar were to happen on Tuesday, they were to circulate it on social media and defame the state government, claiming it had failed to prevent the leakage of question papers.
“This was also discussed in chat with Manoj, a BJP worker — that local Kamalapur students go to examination centres, click a photo of the question paper with their phones, and put them up in different WhatsApp groups to create fear among the students and their parents, thereby to defame the state government,” read the remand report of the police.
The cops said that Manoj, in turn, entrusted the work to one Shiv Ganesh. As per their plan, a minor along with a man name Sharmi trespassed into the ZPHS Boys School in Kamalapur by scaling the compound wall, and went to a first-floor room. The minor took the photo of the question paper from another student at 9.45 am and sent it to Shiva Ganesh.
The police said Shiva immediately forwarded it to a WhatsApp group named “SSC 2019-2020”. One of the members of the group forwarded it to Manoj, who forwarded it to Prashanth.
At 11:11 am, Prashanth prepared a text message which said that the SSC Hindi Paper was leaked at 9.30 am in Warangal.
He also forwarded this to BJP MLA Eatala Rajender’s PAs Narendra and Raju, and to reporters. He also forwarded it to Bandi Sanjay.
Warangal Commissioner of Police AV Ranganath said: “Ex-journalist Boora Prashanth sent the question paper to all, including Telangana BJP president Bandi Sanjay, at 11.18 am. However, our probe found multiple WhatsApp chats and calls between him and Bandi Sanjay. The MP repeated whatever was spoken in chats between the two in a press conference on Monday. For example, the Andhra Jyothi newspaper carried Bandi Sanjay’s press statement, which matched their conversation that happened on Monday. Please note that Prashanth worked with HMTV as bureau chief, and currently works as the Warangal parliament convenor for NaMo TV.”
He further said that the police had not arrested Bandi Sanjay only because he received a WhatsApp message, but because the WhatsApp chats revealed a conspiracy. Bandi Sanjay is refusing to give information about his phone, he said.
Throughout the day
Sanjay’s arrest comes ahead of a Telangana visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 8 April to flag off the Vande Bharat Express from the Secunderabad railway station to Tirupati, apart from laying the foundation stone for the modernisation of the station and other projects, worth over Rs.11,000 crore.
On coming to know about the detention of Sanjay, who is an MP from the Karimnagar constituency, a large number of BJP activists thronged the police station to protest against the police action.
BJP MLA M Raghunandan Rao, who came to the police station to enquire about the reasons behind Sanjay’s arrest, was also taken into preventive custody on Wednesday morning.
A large number of police personnel was deployed at the police station as more BJP activists arrived on to protest the arrest of Sanjay.
Senior BJP leaders, including Union Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy, condemned the detention of Sanjay.
In the evening, the police produced Sanjay before the court in Hanamkonda after frequently changing the vehicles in which he was brought from Bommalaramaram police station.
Meanwhile, the IPS Association of Telangana condemned what it said was an irresponsible and highly derogatory comment made by BJP MLA M Raghunandan Rao against DGP Anjani Kumar on Wednesday in reference to the preventive arrest of Bandi Sanjay.
The association also requested the Speaker of the Assembly to take firm disciplinary action against Raghunandan Rao.
Such an irresponsible statement from a legislator and the use of unparliamentary language against a senior government functionary was highly unbecoming and unhealthy in a democratic setup, it said.
Further, such disparaging remarks were highly demoralising for the entire police force of Telangana, which was working day and night to ensure the safety and security of the public and maintenance of law and order in the state, said DIG (Women’s Safety) B Sumathi, who is also the joint secretary of the IPS Association.
BJP leadership takes note
The BJP central leadership took serious note of the arrest of Bandi Sanjay Kumar.
“The party’s national leadership has taken this brazen attempt very seriously, and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao will pay heavily for his sins,” said BJP national general secretary and Telangana party in-charge Tarun Chugh in a statement.
The party’s national president JP Nadda and Union Home Amit Shah enquired about Sanjay’s arrest.
Chugh conducted a video conference with senior leaders and collected more details on the circumstances that led to the arrest of Sanjay.
Chugh told reporters that Chandrashekar Rao had gone berserk and his family, government, and BRS leaders were continuously involved in corruption and the paper leak case.
Instead of investigating them, KCR was doing politics to divert attention from the matter.
Chugh also said that this was a cowardly act by the BRS government and the police as the BJP started a campaign against the government and its corruption.
He said, “Chandrashekar Rao is in panic due to the growing unpopularity of his government. It is acting out of desperation, despair, and a vindictive mind, and is now resorting to undemocratic and repressive measures to suppress the voice of the BJP.”
Making Sanjay Kumar the prime accused in the case was part of a larger conspiracy to defame the BJP, he said.
“Chandrashekar Rao doesn’t realise that the people of Telangana wouldn’t believe it and nail his lies at the hustings,” he said.
BJP moves a habeas corpus petition
Taking a serious exception to the arrest of Bandi Sanjay, the BJP moved a habeas corpus petition in the Telangana High Court on Wednesday.
Admitting his petition, the court scheduled the hearing on the case for Thursday.
BJP leader Surender Reddy — labelled the president of the “Bhagyanagar district” unit of the party — filed the petition arguing that the arrest was illegal.
He said in the petition that the police used force in detaining Bandi Sanjay while he was visiting his relatives in connection with the 10th-day ceremony of the death of a kin.
He said that the police swooped on him at about 11 pm on Tuesday night and took him away without informing him of the reason.
The police did not allow him to consume the after-dinner medicines which he takes for a heart ailment. Even his wife was not informed of the reason for his arrest, said Surender Reddy.
He said it was mandatory for the police to announce the reason for his arrest at the time of taking him into their custody, but the cops did not follow any of the procedures required under the law.
He listed the state government, DGP, the Rachakonda and Karimnagar Commissioners of Police, as well as the Karimnagar and Bommalaramaram inspectors as respondents. He urged the high court to ask the respondents to produce Bandi Sanjay in court.
BRS supports police action
Meanwhile, BRS leaders came down heavily on Sanjay for being responsible for the leak of question papers.
Telangana Finance Minister T Harish Rao said that the BJP was trying to tarnish the image of the government by resorting to cheap tricks as it had no guts to stand up to the ruling party.
“Bandi Sanjay was caught red-handed. He was trying to use children for political benefit. The entire country is watching closely the despicable acts of the BJP,” he said.
The police had acted on the demand of the BJP workers to arrest those responsible, he added.
“They should know that it was their leader who was responsible,” he said.
The minister insisted that Bandi Sanjay was behind the leak of the papers in Tandur and Warangal.
“It is second nature for him to enact drama whenever he wants to turn the situation politically in his favour. During GHMC elections, he had feigned to end his life in an attempt to purchase BRS MLAs,” said Rao.
Telangana IT and Industries Minister KT Rama Rao took to Twitter to slam the BJP.
He retweeted a user that “it was proof enough” to say that the BJP was involved in the leak of the question paper.
Another proof to say BJP leaders are behind the Paper Leak scandals in #Telangana
The accused in Today's 10th Class Hindi Exam Paper being made viral in WhatsApp groups after the exam commenced is a close follower of Telangana BJP President @bandisanjay_bjp
I request… pic.twitter.com/Y2Ggs2fJb5
— Dinesh Chowdary (@dcstunner999) April 4, 2023
He also shared pictures of an accused in the paper leak case posing with BJP leaders.
In another tweet, what he said loosely translates to: “Giving power to a man who does not have a mental balance is like giving a stone to a madcap. He will continue to throw it at whoever he sees. If the leadership of the party is in the hands of such a person, it would spell danger to democracy.”
పిచ్చోని చేతిలో రాయి ఉంటే..
వచ్చి పోయేటోళ్ళకే ప్రమాదం…!!
అదే పిచ్చోని చేతిలో ఒక పార్టీ ఉంటే
— KTR (@KTRBRS) April 5, 2023