A video circulating on social media shows a man physically roughing up and verbally abusing an employee of Gulbarga Electricity Supply Company Limited (GESCOM) in Karnataka’s Koppal district. The video is accompanied by a claim that the person refused to pay electricity bills based on the promise of free electricity made by the recently elected Congress government in the state.
Rishi Bagree, a Twitter user known for sharing and spreading political misinformation, posted this video clip with the following caption, “Electricity officials are attacked by local residents in Karnataka when they came for meter reading. Residents says that they won’t pay from electricity now onwards as per Congress Guarantee”.
Electricity officials are attacked by local residents in Karnataka when they came for meter reading.
Residents says that they won’t pay from electricity now onwards as per Congress Guarantee
— Rishi Bagree (@rishibagree) May 24, 2023
Even as we write, the video clip is going viral on Facebook, accumulating thousands of views, with the same claim being shared.
We first made a transcript of the conversation audible in the viral video:
It is evident from the conversation that the person wearing the yellow shirt, who is at the centre of the controversy, did not make any mention of the newly established Congress government in the state or any reference to the pre-election promise of free electricity.
In order to further confirm the information, we sought out news reports relating to the incident. According to India Today, the accused was identified as Chandrashekar Hiremat from Kukanapalli in Koppal town of Karnataka. The report says according to police, “the electricity company employee had gone to disconnect Hiremat’s power supply as he had not paid his dues, adding up to over Rs 9,000 for the past 6 months.”
A case against Hiremat was filed at the Munirabad Police Station, and he was arrested after the video had gone viral.
News outlet South First published a video report featuring a statement from SP Yashoda Vantagodi of Koppal. The statement does not make any reference to the incident being related to the Congress party’s pledge of providing free electricity for consumption of up to 200 units.
Video of a #Karnataka man assaulting electricity company staff goes viral with a misleading claim.
The man is seen verbally abusing and thrashing the GESCOM staff who visited the house seeking the payment of the pending electricity bill.https://t.co/jl1uu95Cn4 pic.twitter.com/SxCkFvyxj8
— South First (@TheSouthfirst) May 24, 2023
Although the aforementioned video is not related to the pre-poll promises of the Congress, there are reports emerging that in various districts of Karnataka, residents are declining to pay their electricity bills, citing the promises made during the elections. The newly elected state government held its first cabinet meeting on May 20, during which it gave preliminary approval to fulfil its electoral assurances, including the ‘Gruha Jyothi’ scheme, under which the government would provide free electricity up to 200 units to all houses in Karnataka.
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