This is probably the first in the country where the police have invoked nonbailable sections of the Disaster Management Act to slap cases against a top opposition leader.
The police registered the first information report based on a complaint filed by one M Subbaiah of Kurnool who sought action against Naidu for raising false alarm claiming that the N440K variant of Covid-19 was more virulent and spreading fast across Andhra Pradesh.
Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act prescribes punishment for false warning and says, “Whoever makes or circulates a false alarm or warning as to disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to panic, shall on conviction, be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine.”
The police case against Naidu comes on the day the ruling YSR Congress Party (YCP) top leaders accused the opposition leader of damaging the image of AP by malicious propaganda on the new strain of the virus.
The ruling party general secretary and government advisor on public affairs Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy held Naidu responsible for several states including Delhi and Odisha imposing restrictions on people travelling from Andhra. The ruling party leaders demanded to book cases against the opposition party leader for spreading rumours on N440K strain to defame the government and portraying people from Andhra as super transmitters of Covid-19 to other states.
Referring to the media reports over the rapidly spreading N440K strain first noticed in Kurnool district by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Naidu has raised concerns and demanded the government initiate measures to curb the spread of the pandemic.
Condemning the cases slapped against Naidu, the opposition TDP leaders accused the ruling YCP government of resorting to political vendetta and diverting the attention of the public from the government’s failures in containing the spread of pandemic and saving lives.