The cybercrime police in Tamil Nadu’s Trichy district on Saturday booked R Nataraj, a former director general of police, for allegedly “spreading false propaganda” against the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government, reported The Indian Express.
Nataraj, a former All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MLA, was booked on a police complaint from Trichy-based lawyer and DMK office bearer P Sheela. The DMK office bearer accused Nataraj of using WhatsApp to circulate the “false claim” that thousands of temples in Tamil Nadu have been destroyed over the past two years with the help of the police, The Times of India reported.
In a statement, the police said that Nataraj has been also been accused of spreading a fake message on a WhatsApp group named “Public Defense Prosecution”, which he shared alongside a photo of Chief Minister MK Stalin to imply that the words were that of the DMK president, reported The News Minute.
“If the DMK has to win by the votes of the Hindus, such victory is not needed,” the message allegedly said, according to The News Minute. “The DMK has not stooped low to win in the election by getting the votes of Hindus.”
On Friday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin denounced a former police officer for running a smear campaign against him but he did not name Nataraj. Stalin also denied allegations that the DMK does not need the votes of Hindus.
The former police officer has been booked on charges of promoting enmity between different religious groups, intentionally provoking public disturbance, spreading rumours to incite fear or alarm, and personation via communication devices of the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act.
Nataraj told The Indian Express that he will address the issue through legal channels.
“The forwarded message in question is not authored by me; it was part of a discussion in a closed group,” he claimed. “It seems likely that the chief minister was misinformed, as the discussion appeared on someone’s Twitter, not mine. Since this is now a subject of investigation and I am yet to receive the FIR copy, I will refrain from further comment.”
Nataraj added that he, however, believes that invoking Indian Penal Code Section 153A, which is promoting enmity between different religious groups, does not apply in this case.