Sharmili Mallick

Bhubaneswar: The Commissionerate Police on Monday arrested two persons for reportedly bringing Covid-19 mismanagement allegations in an audio conversation that has gone viral on social media.

While one has been identified as Biswajit Mohanty (47), a businessman of Palasuni area in Bhubaneswar, the other arrestee Laxmikanta Behera (46) is stated to be a resident of Rasulgarh area and an employee of ORTEL Communications.

Mohanty and Behera were picked up the police Sunday night for interrogation and arrested today based on a criminal case registered in connection with telecast and circulation of an audio conversation between the two persons.

They have been charged with Sections 269/270/505(b) 120-B IPC, Section 3 of Epidemic Disease Act and Section 52 of Disaster Management Act at Capital Police Station.

Both Behera and Mohanty will be taken on a 3-day remand beginning Wednesday.

A release of the Commissionerate Police claims the audio recording has been prepared and circulated, edited, uploaded and propagated, with malafide and mischievous intention as the clip contains misleading and false information about COVID pandemic, stated the police release.

The police version further states that the conversation in the audio clip is an attempt to make others believe that there is false corona positive reports and persons are being shifted to hospital falsely showing them positive, as there is a certain target for the number of patients to be fetched by hospitals.

“This goes against the guidelines related to the management of the present disaster and violates many legal provisions, thus attracting criminal action,” added the Commissionerate Police.

Further investigation in connection with the case is underway.

Accused Mohanty, speaking to media, has accepted to have sent the audio clip to around 20-25 friends.

Behera, on the other hand, said that he was casually sharing his experience in Covid hospital. “I was tested positive for Covid-19 and sharing my treatment experience in the hospital with him. I was unaware that he was recording our conversation,’ said Behera.

On August 6, OTV digital platform had posted an audio clip between two people, one of whom was discharged from a Covid hospital, on the kind of treatment being provided. Immediately, BMC swung to action blaming OTV for airing the audio though the television channel had not done so. The audio clip was also posted with a disclaimer and sought BMC version which was not available then. However, BMC issued a show-cause notice and filed police complaint against OTV asking officials to depose.

Today, OTV Public Relations Officer had gone to police station to submit reply and other documents in connection with the notice served by BMC & Commissionerate Police to the news channel. Though police received the reply letter submitted by OTV, it refused to accept other documents sought under Section 91 of CrPC.

(Edited By Devbrat Patnaik)

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