In an unexpected development, the ‘Save Pattandur Agrahara Lake’ social media campaign took a dark turn after the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) filed a complaint at the Whitefield police station last week against Sandeep Anirudhan, the president of Whitefield’s Residential Welfare Association (RWA).
Anirudhan is a lake activist who launched the online campaign to save the Pattandur Agrahara lake in Whitefield after construction of a road began in its buffer zone in 2017.
The case has been filed under sections 153 and 186 of the Indian Penal Code for “spreading propaganda” against the BBMP and “inciting people” against the road project through social media posts. According to a report, the Whitefield police issued a notice to Anirudhan on Monday, summoning him for questioning by the investigating officer. The report stated that the BBMP denies the existence of such a water body in the Whitefield area.
BBMP’s complaint read: “While there is a clear marking of the Road Alignment in the Revised Master Plan (RMP) 2015, Sandeep Anirudhan is obstructing the government’s work by false propaganda through media stating that the road is being formed on the lake buffer area. The RMP-2015 does not indicate any existence of the lake.”
“However, Sandeep Anirudhan is falsely claiming the withdrawn Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP-2031). He is instigating the public at large to oppose the Government Financed public work, alleging the BBMP, especially the Road Infrastructure division’s role. The Road Infrastructure has not been involved in any corrupt practices in the road making but is following the directives of the Comprehensive Development Plan (RMP-2015,” it added.
Anirudhan told The Indian Express that the sections of IPC under which the FIR has been filed are not applicable in any way to the complaint, as this is merely an accusation of spreading false information. “IPC Section 153 deals with incitement to riots. None of the social media posts incite rioting in any form. IPC Section 186 deals with obstruction of public servants. The illegal road formation works have been continuously progressing since October 2021 up until now. Neither I nor anyone else has obstructed that work. Hence, we appeal to you that the FIR has been wrongly filed,” he told.
The social media campaign ‘Save Pattandur Agrahara Lake’ caught the attention of the elusive officials of the BBMP in March, causing the Zonal Commissioner from Mahadevapura BBMP, Trilok Chandra to ask his subordinates to inspect the spot and take action immediately.
According to a High Court order it should be ensured that there is no construction within 30 metres of the boundaries of lakes. In late March, Chandra had put the joint commissioner and chief engineer of the Mahadevapura zone to task regarding this issue and was quoted by News Trail as saying that, “It is causing embarrassment and there are chances of getting chided by the court.”
The Twitter handle for the cause, called Save Pattandur Agrahara Lake, tweeted in this regard as the following: “@CMofKarnataka @BSBommai’s desperate attempt to intimidate! Fake Claims – that lake doesn’t exist. FIR cites unprovoked IPC sections: 153 – RIOTS? 186 – obstruction? Neither remotely true! Illegal work has been ongoing for 7 months!”