Congress protests after police raid poll strategist’s ‘war room’

Party leaders under house arrest, Sunil Kanugolu absconding

Hyderabad: A day after police raided the Telangana Congress ‘war room’ run by the party's poll strategist, Sunil Kanugolu, for allegedly making defamatory comments about Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, Congress workers held widespread protests across the state on Wednesday, while a few party leaders were put under house arrest before the mass demonstrations could begin.

The police raided Kanugolu's office in connection with a case filed over alleged offensive comments against the CM and the posting of the same on social media platforms against the state government. Kanugolu was named as the prime accused in the case, along with three others who worked for him. Police said Kanugolu is absconding.

Following a call from the party MP from Kodangal and TPCC president Revanth Reddy to protest the raids on the party's ‘war room’, the police placed several senior Congress leaders under house arrest.

Party leaders gathered at Gandhi Bhavan in response to Revanth Reddy's call, and attempts by party workers to stage a rally in front of Pragathi Bhavan, the Chief Minister's official residence, were thwarted. The demonstrations were organised by PCC working presidents Jagga Reddy and Mahesh Kumar Goud.

Former MP Anjan Kumar Yadav, Youth Congress leader Anil Kumar Yadav, PCC vice-president Malreddy Ranga Reddy, and others were taken into preventive custody and taken to Jubilee Hills police station, while some party workers, including Khairatabad Corporator Vijaya Reddy, were detained for holding demonstrations near the Police Command Control Center.

Earlier, former minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir, PCC senior vice-president Mallu Ravi, Khairatabad DCC president Rohin Reddy, and a few other Congress leaders were arrested for resisting raids on Sunil Kanugolu's office in Madhapur on Tuesday night. CLP leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka and others strongly condemned the 'high handedness' of the police.

Meanwhile, the Congress filed habeas corpus petition in the High Court, contending that the whereabouts of the detained some employees working in Sunil’s war room were unknown by evening.

In the petition, senior leader Mallu Ravi submitted that three staffers — Ishan Sharma of Shimla, Sasank Tatineni of Visakhapatnam and Prathap Manda of Vijayawada (Urban) — were picked up by the police without issuing any notice or without disclosing any reason for their detention.

Counsel for Mallu Ravi also requested the court to hear the case urgently. However, the court said that it would hear the case on Thursday.

Further, AICC (Telangana in-charge) Manickam Tagore shared the Facebook posts created by Sunil Kanugolu's team at the Telangana Congress “war room” which he claimed rattled the KCR government prompting a raid by police. While sharing the posts on Twitter, he challenged the Telangana government to arrest him and also moved an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha, seeking a debate on the arrest of five Congress workers from the party’s “war room” in Hyderabad.

The case has been assigned to Hyderabad commissioner CV Anand, who is currently leading the Special Investigation Team (SIT) investigating the poachgate scandal.

According to Gajarao Bhupal, joint commissioner, Central Crime Station, three accused were served with notices under Section 41A of the CrPC. Sunil's name has been added as an accused in the case based on their confessions, he said. While Sunil remains at large, cases on the same charges have been filed at the city's Market, Ramgopalpet, Chandrayangutta, and Amberpet police stations, he added.

Cyber Crime police registered a case and began an investigation after receiving a complaint from a person identified as Samrat. During the investigation, they tracked the IP addresses and discovered that they were being accessed from Madhapur.

When teams went to the office tracking the IP locations, they were directed to Mindshare United Foundation. When the police arrived, they discovered around 80 employees working in the Congress party’s Telangana “war room”.

On further inquiry, police found that three persons Sri Pratap Manda, Ishan Sharma and Shashank Thatineni, have posted the alleged morphed videos in social media platforms under the name 'Telangana Galam'. They also revealed that they had been working for Sunil Kanugolu for a few months.

“They were operating secretly, concealing their identity. We are in the process of analysing the laptops and mobile phones seized from the premises. Only then we would come to know more details of the persons behind these people,” said Gajarao Bhupal, joint commissioner, Central Crime Station.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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