Telangana: Two more senior police officers arrested in phone tapping case

The Hyderabad Police have arrested two more senior police officials in connection with the Telangana phone tapping case, PTI reported on Monday,

The case pertains to the alleged tapping of the phones of several persons, including Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy during the Assembly elections last year, and destroying certain computer systems and official data.

On March 13, D Praneeth Rao, a suspended deputy superintendent of police in the Special Intelligence Bureau, was arrested in the case on a complaint filed by D Ramesh, additional superintendent of police with the Special Intelligence Bureau.

In an official release, the police said on Saturday that Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police Thirupathanna and Additional Superintendent of Police N Bhujanga Rao were arrested for colluding with Praneeth Rao, reported PTI.

“During the questioning, the two police officials have confessed about their involvement in the reported crimes including conspiracy to monitor private persons illegally by developing their profiles abusing their official positions; to cause disappearance of evidence by destroying the public property to conceal their involvement in collusion with the already arrested D Praneeth Kumar alias Praneeth Rao, DSP [under suspension] and some other persons,” the release said.

The two police officers have been sent to judicial custody till April 6, according to The Hindu.

Former intelligence official allegedly involved

The police’s remand report submitted before a Hyderabad court recorded the statement ofPraneeth Rao, who was quoted as saying that he got involved in the alleged phone tapping and destroying of data on the instructions of former Special Intelligence Bureau chief T Prabhakar Rao, reported Deccan Chronicle.

“Prabhakar Rao told me to get engaged in phone tapping, he would take care of my promotion,” said Praneeth Rao. “Tapped phone numbers given by N Bhujanga Rao and Thirupatanna.”

He said that during the Assembly elections, they tapped the phones of “hundreds of political leaders and monitored fund-raising by different parties”. Praneeth Rao said that those whose phones were tapped also included businessmen.

He also accepted that he destroyed the main device and hard disks containing the snooping data using a cutter. “Broke hard disk devices and threw them in the Musi river, burnt documents in two war rooms,” said Praneeth Rao.

Bhujanga Rao said that numbers given by leaders of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi were tapped. “Forwarded numbers given by [former task force deputy commissioner of police] Radha Kishan Rao to Praneeth Rao and Tirupatanna,” read the remand report.

Allegations against Praneeth Rao

On March 10, the Punjagutta Police registered a criminal case against Praneeth Rao, six days after he was suspended as the deputy superintendent of police over “gross misconduct” and “abuse of official position”.

In his complaint, D Ramesh said that there has been a concerning pattern of Praneeth Rao’s behaviour during his time as an Inspector and later as deputy superintendent of police with the Special Intelligence Bureau from 2018 to 2023, reported The Hindu.

Rao was involved in dismantling and destroying data in as many as 42 hard drives and replacing them with new ones, he alleged. Ramesh also said that Rao dismantled and destroyed equipment containing data by turning off the cameras on the night of December 4, 2023, the day Bharat Rashtra Samithi lost the Assembly elections.

Police had filed a case under various relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, including breach of trust, criminal trespass, tampering with evidence, and criminal conspiracy. Cases were also filed under the Prevention of Destruction of Public Records Act 1984 and the Information Technology Act.

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