Hyderabad: Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) said on Friday it will lodge a criminal complaint against TV5, a Telugu language television channel that on Thursday evening aired a news story indicating that the company could have been behind the death of the then chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR) in a helicopter crash.
The channel said it based its sabotage story on a 3 September report by a Russian online bi-weekly tabloid, The Exiled.
Mark Ames, the author of the tabloid story, had said in the article he was speculating on a hypothesis that RIL could be behind Reddy’s death as the leader had demanded a share of the earnings for Andhra Pradesh from the company’s natural gas fields off the Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin.
Mukesh Ambani-led RIL, India’s largest company by market value, plans to produce 80 million cu. m of gas from the country’s largest field, KG-D6, this year.
In December, RIL had found more natural gas in the KG basin.
Soon after TV5 aired the story, Reliance outlets across Andhra Pradesh were attacked by mobs.
TV5 is promoted by B. Rajagopal Naidu, a businessman from Chittoor.
Sakshi TV, owned by Rajasekhara Reddy’s son and Kadapa legislator Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, and another channel NTV, owned by real estate businessman Narendra Chowdary, too, aired the sabotage theory soon after.
“We are shocked and outraged at the false, malicious, motivated and libelous news on TV5 channel concerning the fatal mishap of Shri Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s helicopter,” a company spokesperson said in a statement on Friday.
RIL has asked the Central and state governments to investigate into the incidents.
N. Chandrababu Naidu, president of the Telugu Desam Party, the main Opposition in the state, said the attacks on Reliance outlets were a conspiracy by some Congress party leaders to destabilize the state government.
The state government is run by the Congress, but local party members have been split over some issues in recent months, including the proposed carving out of a new Telangana state and Jagan Mohan Reddy not being named the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh after his father’s death.
“I have evidence that SMS messages were sent to Congress cadres and YSR (Rajasekhara Reddy) fans to get ready for attacks on Reliance outlets, some minutes before the news was actually aired on the TV channels,” Naidu claimed.
Andhra Pradesh director general of police Girish Kumar said law enforcers will book cases against TV5.
State home minister Sabitha Indra Reddy said the police have booked 96 cases and arrested 187 people since Thursday night over the attacks on Reliance outlets.