The Andhra Pradesh police have registered cases at 96 places and arrested 185 persons in the state in connection with the attacks on the outlets of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL). The damage to the company’s properties was “not much and there is no major problem,” a RIL spokesperson told Business Standard.
Irate mobs attacked Reliance outlets on Thursday night following a report by a Telugu television channel. According to the report by channel TV5, an article on a Russian website, exiledonline.com, had speculated that there could be a conspiracy behind the sudden death of former chief minister, YS Rajasekhara Reddy. The article alleged involvement of the Ambani brothers in the helicopter crash that claimed Reddy’s life on September 2 last year.
The unsubstantiated report, which was apparently uploaded just a day after the crash, had been picked up by two other television channels too. Agitated people then hit the streets and attacked Reliance outlets in the state late Thursday night.
The article, written by an American journalist Mark Ames, buttressed its conspiracy claim with the speculation that Reddy took on the Ambanis after he stressed that the gas find by Mukesh Ambani’s RIL in the Krishna-Godavari basin was a national asset and the Ambani brothers had no right to distribute it among themselves.
RIL demands official investigation
RIL stated that the channel had thrown all journalistic norms to the winds to malign the company’s reputation. It further added that a criminal complaint would be filed against the channel.
“We also demand that the central and state governments initiate an immediate investigation into these despicable acts and bring the culprits to justice,” the company added.
Terming the report as “false, malicious, motivated and libellous news,” the RIL spokesperson further said: “It is the dirty handiwork of our business rivals in cahoots with TV5 (the channel that broadcasted the report first).”
The Anil Dhirubhai Ambani (ADA) group also took strong exception to the speculation by the website and the report broadcast here. “We are confident that the authorities would take appropriate action against those corporate elements engaging in such criminal acts of disinformation,” the ADA group said in a statement.
Govt reviews situation
The police have registered a case against TV5 at the Jubilee Hills Police Station in Hyderabad under sections 153/CA (provocation with intent to cause riot) and 502A (role of printed substance containing defamatory matter). A police team also took into custody TV5’s Senior Executive Editor Brahmananda Reddy and Input Editor Venkata Krishna.
Chief Minister K Rosaiah held a high-level meeting to review the law and order situation in the state. Security has been beefed at all Reliance outlets even as the attacks have subsided. Telugu Desam Party (TDP) President and leader of Opposition in the Assembly, N Chandrababu Naidu, alleged the attacks on Reliance outlets were “pre-planned and were part of a conspiracy.”
He sought an inquiry into the episode. He further stated that law and order had collapsed in the state. Naidu also said that if the situation continued, “nobody would dare to come to Hyderabad to invest.”
Some Congress leaders alleged the attacks were an attempt to divert attention from the contentious issue of according a statehood to the Telangana region.
State Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy said speculation about the conspiracy behind YSR’s death would be conveyed to the Central Bureau Investigation (CBI), which is probing the circumstances that led to the helicopter crash. The CBI would also be asked to expedite its investigation. She added the CM had already spoken to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on the issue.