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Hyderabad police checking mobile phones sparks row

Hyderabad police checking mobile phones sparks row

The checking of mobile phones of people by Hyderabad police as part of anti-narcotics drive sparked a row with activists taking strong exception to police intruding into citizen's privacy.

Videos of personnel from police and excise departments stopping people on roads and checking not just their vehicles but also their mobile phones went viral on social media on Thursday. The police personnel were looking into chats and were reportedly searching for key words like 'ganja' and 'drugs'

The police action evoked strong reaction from many, who wanted to know if this was legal. They termed this as harassment of people.

Telangana High Court advocate Karam Komireddy termed the police action of checking mobile phones as unconstitutional.

"Supreme Court has ruled that the right to privacy is a fundamental right and is an intrinsic part of the right to personal liberty under Art 21 of the Constitution. The action of TS police in checking phones amounts to an invasion of one's privacy and is therefore unconstitutional," he tweeted.

The search was conducted in areas around Dhoolpet, considered to be a hub of narcotics. The police personnel were seen carrying out the searches in Mangalhat, Bhoiguda Kaman and Jumerat Bazar areas.

Social activist S.Q. Masood wanted Telangana DGP and Hyderabad Police Commissioner to clarify if it is permissible under any law to stop and check people and their mobile phones.

"Can you do this at Banjara Hills or Hi-tech City areas? This is clear harassment to common and illiterate people," he said.

Meanwhile, Hyderabad Police Commissioner Anjani Kumar clarified that the police have no intention of intruding into citizens' right to privacy. He, however, said in case of suspicion, everything including electronic devices are checked as digital evidence is critical. "As far as rowdies, murderers, criminals are concerned, if we find anything in possession, we have to check what is that. It is our prime responsibility," he said.

The anti-narcotics drive was launched following recent directions of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao to police and excise departments to deal firmly with growing menace of drugs in Hyderabad and other parts of the State.

During the meeting with top officials, the chief minister had stated the reports of drug addicts forming WhatsApp groups in the state, exchanging messages on drugs availability, purchasing and consuming drugs, were alarming.

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