Peddling communally sensitive rumours and fake news cannot be without consequences. Karnataka police has arrested Postcard News founder Mahesh Vikram Hegde under sections 153A, 295A and 120B of IPC. BJP MP Pratap Simha was among those who tweeted about his arrest. Hegde was arrested over fake news that was spread by PostCard News that a Jain sage had been attacked by Muslim youth in Karnataka. Alt News was the first to report this story, which can be read here.
— Pratap Simha (@mepratap) March 29, 2018
However, the information about him being arrested under Section 66A as claimed by Pratap Simha is incorrect according to the information Alt News has received. Alt News will keep a close eye and get the latest updates on this story. Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code deals with attempt to promoting enmity between religious groups, Section 295A addresses deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage sentiments whereas Section 120B of IPC refers to criminal conspiracy.
Postcard News, the publication run by Hegde is known for patently false news to polarize communities. Postcard News has time and again been promoted by senior members of BJP. States with non-BJP governments like West Bengal and Karnataka are a particular focus of the propaganda spread by this mega factory of fake news. Earlier in November 2017, an FIR had been filed against the admins of Postcard News for an alleged derogatory post.
Curiously, Hegde is followed by the Prime Minister of India on Twitter. Hegde was part of the Alt News story in which we produced a comprehensive list of shady accounts that the PM follows.
With dates of Karnataka elections already announced, we expect to see many communally divisive fake stories to surface. Social media users have be more alert than ever, particularly when it comes to news shared by the well-known serial peddlers of fake news.