Case filed against lake activist for social media comments

Anirudhan has argued that the land in question was a lake buffer zone and the road construction was illegal
Last Updated : 11 May 2022, 02:35 IST

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The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has moved the police against an individual’s “false propaganda” against lake encroachment, leading to the registration of a case of rioting.

The Whitefield Police have registered a case against Sandeep Anirudhan, who has taken the BBMP to the Karnataka High Court for building an “illegal” road in the Pattandur Agrahara Lake area. The case has been registered under Section 153 (giving provocation with an intent to cause riot) and Section 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions).

The case involves the construction of a road in Survey No 54, Pattandur Agrahara.

Anirudhan has argued that the land in question was a lake buffer zone and the road construction was illegal. He has also filed a writ appeal in the court in the matter. The BBMP, however, argues that the road has been approved by the Revised Master Plan 2015, which doesn’t recognise the land as a lake buffer zone.

The BBMP engineers have complained against Anirudhan’s social media comments. A copy of the complaint filed by the office of the Executive Engineer of the Mahadevapura Division accuses Anirudhan of “obstructing the government’s work by false propaganda through media” and “instigating public at large to oppose the government-financed public work”.

Leo Saldanha of the Environment Support Group said civic authorities need to listen to the concerns raised by people and not be affected by the tone when people in their enthusiasm to save lakes protest or air views on social media.

“Such mature governance responses will give the BBMP’s lake conservation efforts much-needed public support, while also encouraging every person to become a lake activist. It is quite unnecessary to attack one for an opinion aired on social media with criminal provisions. The public office demands resilience, not reaction,” he said.

‘Matter sub-judice’

Some activists said both the activist and the BBMP have crossed the line. “Abusive and derogatory remarks without evidence is unwarranted and will only hurt the cause than help it. As this lake issue is sub-judice, this should be decided in the courts and all parties should abide by the court order.

“On the other hand, trying to institutionalise harassment by both the activist and BBMP is not a healthy development,” said V Ramprasad, co-founder of Friends of Lakes (FoL).

FoL core member Nagesh Aras said police were obligated to register a case after the BBMP engineers filed a complaint. “But they can choose to mediate an amicable settlement. Public servants face pressure and threats mainly from anti-social elements and rarely from benign activists. So, the police cannot just drop the case without bringing a closure. This should not be treated as a case of coercive force used by the state.”

Anirudhan said BBMP officials have made a false complaint. “I never interfered with the discharge of government duties,” he stated, giving case details and requesting the police to drop the proceedings.

Published 10 May 2022, 19:18 IST

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