The ongoing Aryan Khan drug case has put newsmakers and lawmakers on high alert. While mainstream media is leaving no stone unturned to ensure the issue gets its due share of the limelight, cops are upbeat about busting drug rackets and catching hold of anyone violating the law in terms of toxic consumption of substances.
Two weeks ago, Hyderabad police initiated an awareness program titled 'Ganja Mukt Hyderabad' to educate people on the need to stay away from narcotics and help make Hyderabad a narcotic addiction-free city, reported Deccan Chronicle, a local daily.
The programme was conducted in Dhoolpet, Mangalghat area of the old city in the presence of commissioner Anjani Kumar. "We are conducting this programme for your good. We want the youth of Dhoolpet to choose the right path. We will always support you," he was quoted by the media outlet. According to reports, in the city, Dhoolpet, RTC X-Roads and Jubilee Hills are prime locations for supply.
Since then, the city police has been on a tight vigilance to nab anyone sharing a link with drug abusers or even those who might be growing ganja at home.
According to a Times of India report, on October 24, police registered a case against a man living in the Jeedimetla area, for growing 20 ganja (marijuana) plants at his house. The city police have also been conducting an extensive search of private vehicles, RTC buses, autos, and even pedestrians at Aramghar Crossroad, Rajendra Nagar, confirmed a Siasat Daily report.
However, one of the strange methods adopted by the cops on drug surveillance has been a point of contention on social media. On Wednesday, October 27, a video captured by media outlet The Siasat Daily, allegedly showed city cops going through motorists and passersby's Whatsapp chats to search for terms like 'ganja'. The one-minute video that has been viewed more than 99k times, shows cops going through the youth's mobile phones to look for ganja-related conversations.
While some netizens appreciated the city cops' proactiveness in terms of busting unlawful acts, a section of Twitterati felt this was an absolute violation of privacy.
Users even went on to share their personal experiences, not just in Hyderabad but even Bengaluru and some parts of Himachal Pradesh that felt rather 'intimidating'.
Kiran Kumar wrote, "Happened once in #Bengaluru as well. It was 11.30 pm. @BlrCityPolice asked to show the images in the phone, they were looking for some pics of narcotic substances. When refused, they blackmailed that they'll take my friend to police station and take some drug tests."
Responding to the questions on the thread, advocate BV Sheshagiri said, "Checking phones of the commuters/motorists by the Police personnel, is invasion of individuals privacy and is an infringement of the Fundamental Rights, it's per se illegal and arbitrary."
Deputy Commissioner of Police, South Zone, Gajarao Bhupal confirmed the act to media outlet The News Minute and stated that no one has objected to the random frisking so far.
"Yes, I am aware that phones are being checked. However, we are not forcing anybody nor are we snatching away their phones to check. People are cooperating and no one is complaining, so I don't think there is anything illegal," the TNM quoted the south zone DCP.
On being asked, if people have a right to deny showing their phone chats, he said, "The public can deny giving their phone. However, we will then have to see what legal provisions apply. So far, we have not faced any such issue. There are no specific instructions as there has not been any issue so far."