Two people accused of inciting violence and spreading rumours on Facebook about Jayaram Jayalalitha, chief minister of Tamil Nadu state
Police in India have arrested two people on charges of inciting violence and spreading rumours, amid uncertainty about the health of a powerful and controversial politician.
The two have been accused of posting false news on social media websites about the condition of Jayaram Jayalalitha, chief minister of Tamil Nadu state, who has been in hospital since last month.
The accused were arrested on Monday for posting false news on Facebook. We are taking these acts seriously, Senthil Kumar, head of the serious crimes branch in the state capital, Chennai, told AFP, without elaborating on the content of the posts.
Forty-three similar cases had been filed against unknown persons and a hunt launched to arrest them, Kumar said.
Jayalalitha was admitted to hospital in Chennai on 22 September, and tens of thousands of her supporters are anxiously awaiting news about her health.
Authorities have provided few updates on her condition, initially saying the 68-year-old leader was suffering from fever and dehydration.
On 3 October, the hospital said she was on respiratory support and a critical care expert was flown in from Britain.
Scores of her followers gather outside the hospital every day, praying in unusual ways for her recovery.
Jayalalitha, a former movie star known as amma or mother, has a cult following in one of the countrys most prosperous states. She is serving as chief minister for the third time after winning elections this year.
Police fear rumours could provoke her supporters to turn violent or even engage in self-harm.
Last week one of her supporters was injured after setting himself on fire, while an elderly man suspended himself from a crane with steel hooks pierced through his skin.
Pictures showed scores of children with metal arrows piercing their cheeks holding Jayalalithas picture as they prayed for her recovery.
Local opposition parties have demanded in vain that the government issue regular health bulletins. A few individuals have approached the courts on the matter.
Jayalalitha is one of Indias most powerful female politicians but her career, lasting more than three decades, has been marred by corruption charges. She was jailed briefly on two occasions, most recently in 2014.
But she has repeatedly sprung back to power, mostly with the help of vast election-time giveaways that ranged from laptops to bicycles and kitchen appliances.
Originally found athttp://www.theguardian.com/us
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