Two people have been arrested for spreading rumours about the health of the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, J. Jayalalithaa, reports said.
One of them is a software engineer called Sathish Kumar from Tiruchengode who admitted to his sharing such information on his Facebook page after a complaint was filed against him by G Ramachandran, the secretary of the information technology wing of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).
The other person, Madasamy, was held from Madurai based on a complaint by a resident of Chennai who accused him of circulating an audio clip of a hospital worker allegedly discussing Jayalalithaa's health. It is believed he used a portal, tamilentertainment.co.in, to upload this file and then proceeded to spread it through various social media platforms, The Hindu reported. Earlier a woman, who claimed to be a resident of France, had been booked for the same offence.
These complaints have been registered under Sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 505 (1) (whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statements, rumour or reports) and 505 (1) (c) (d) (with intent to cause or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Officers of Central Crime Branch said over 43 cases had been registered in connection with posting of false information by miscreants on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and WhatsApp. Such activities could potentially result in severe penalties, including imprisonment for up to seven years.
In the meantime, AIADMK urged twitter users to change the profile photograph of their accounts to an image that says "My CM is fine."
The party spokespersons have repeatedly stressed, since the chief minister was admitted to hospital in September with fever and dehydration, that she is recovering well and taking important decisions while on the path to recovery.
Jayalalithaa's close aide, Sasikala Pushpa, who was expelled from the AIADMK for misconduct, had recently raised concerns over the authenticity of the chief minister's signature on any communication that comes from her office.
She wrote in a letter, "It is feared that some people around Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, now hospitalized, may forge her signature to nominate a deputy general secretary to AIADMK and the government also."
Since her illness, Jayalalithaa has been visited by members of the political establishment, including Rahul Gandhi of the Congress and most recently, Pinarayi Vijayan, the chief minister of Kerala, along with Kerala Governor P Sathasivam and Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi.
Governor Vidyasagar Rao and the Madras High Court have not yet insisted on a stand-in be named for Jayalalithaa, a demand which has been made by some opposition leaders including the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which is the main opposition party in Tamil Nadu.
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