The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday passed an interim stay order on the Central Crime Branch’s investigation against the founder of the website Postcard News, The News Minute reported. Mahesh Vikram Hegde is accused of publishing fake news to disrupt communal harmony.
The order is in effect till April 25.
On March 29, the Bengaluru Police arrested Hegde for publishing a story that turned out to be fake. Hegde had claimed in a social media post on March 18 that a Jain monk from Karnataka was attacked and injured by a Muslim youth. The monk had been injured in a road accident.
“No one safe in Siddaramaiah’s Karnataka,” the Facebook page of Postcard News said, according to AltNews. The post, which was accompanied by a picture of the monk with injuries on his arm and shoulder, has now been deleted. Hegde had posted the information on Twitter as well, AltNews reported.
The picture of the monk had, however, first appeared in a Jain publication on March 13, which reported that he had been injured in a road accident. The Jain publication’s editor confirmed to AltNews that the monk, Mayank Sagar, had “a minor accident” after a motorcycle hit him in Kanakapura, Karnataka.
In court, Hegde’s lawyer had alleged that his arrest and subsequent denial of bail on April 6 were part of a political witch-hunt, The Indian Express reported. “It is clear that Congress workers or Congress-sponsored stooges are being used by the Siddaramaiah government to target Hegde,” Tejasvi Surya said.
Surya is the general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s youth wing in Karnataka, The News Minute reported. Prime Minister Narendra Modi follows Hegde on Twitter.
The website has often been accused of writing communally-divisive fake stories.