One year jail for spreading rumours on coronavirus, Hyd police warns

The Hyderabad Police have warned that those spreading false news and rumours on coronavirus may be jailed up to one year. Hours after the state government announced shutdown to contain coronavirus on Saturday, Hyderabad Police Commissioner Anjani Kumar warned against rumours and false news.

Commissioner Anjani Kumar said that false news and rumours are bad for society. He said those who are spreading false information on social media and creating panic on coronavirus were liable for punishment under relevant sections of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Act.  Punishment under the Act can be up to one year imprisonment and fine, he said.

"Whoever makes or circulates a false alarm or warning as to disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to panic, shall on conviction, be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine," says section 54 of the Act.

Announcing the closure of all educational institutions and banning public gatherings, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Saturday night warned the media against publishing or airing unconfirmed reports about coronavirus cases.

He asked the media outlets to strictly go by the information released from the health department with regard to the coronavirus cases. "Those spreading false news will face stringent action," he said. 

The government also announced the closure of cinema halls, pubs, bars, clubs, gyms, swimming pools, museums, zoo parks, indoor and outdoor stadiums. Shopping malls, super markets and shops will, however, remain open to avoid inconvenience to people.

Stating that the steps were precautionary in nature and there was no need for panic, KCR said that the government was fully geared up to deal with any eventuality, and also announced that the cabinet had sanctioned Rs 500 crore for measures required to check the spread of coronavirus.

He said 200 personnel had been deployed at the Hyderabad Airport to screen passengers. The health authorities have arranged over 1,020 isolation beds and 321 intensive care unit beds for people with suspected symptoms. Quarantine facilities have been arranged at four places and 240 ventilators arranged. 

Read: 

COVID-19: Schools, colleges, cinema halls in Telangana to shut down till March 31

COVID-19: Andhra local body election process postponed by six weeks

IANS inputs