Man refuses to pay electricity bill, beats up official, stating that the Congress had vowed free electricity when it came to power.
Altercation was not over poll promise, but the man’s refusal to pay his pending bills and acquiring an illegal connection.
A video showing a man assaulting and abusing an electricity department official has gone viral with the claim that the incident happened over Congress’ poll promise in Karnataka, where the Congress recently came to power.
“…Electricity officials are being attacked by local residents in Karnataka, who are allegedly saying that they won’t pay for electricity from now onwards as per Congress’s Guarantee,” read a post.
The archived version of the tweets can be seen here and here.
The Congress’s promise of free electricity
The Congress on May 13 came to power in Karnataka with an impressive victory in the Assembly elections. Among its manifesto pledges, the Congress promised 200 units of free electricity every month to people in Karnataka, which has reportedly led to residents across the state refusing to pay their electricity bills, stating that the Congress had vowed free electricity.
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Newschecker noticed that in the video the man was abusing the electricity official, but there was no mention of the Congress’s poll promise. We then ran a keyword search for “Karnataka electricity assault”, which led us to this Deccan Herald report, dated May 24, 2023, stating that the police arrested a man for allegedly attacking an employee of the Gulbarga Electricity Supply Company Limited (GESCOM) in Koppal district, and refusing to pay his electricity bill dues.
“A resident of Kukanapalli in Koppal abused and attacked a GESCOM employee when he was asked to pay the power bill, police sources said. The supply of power to the house of the accused was cut for not paying the bill. However, the accused is said to have taken an illegal connection, and when the GESCOM staff questioned him, and asked him to pay the bill, he allegedly abused and attacked one of them,” read the article, adding that the incident was recorded on the mobile phone by the GESCOM employee’s colleague.
According to a Prajavani report dated May 24, 2023, Chandrasekhar Hiremath was arrested for slapping a GESCOM employee who had come to collect his electricity bill arrears. District superintendent of police Yashoda Vantagodi confirmed this.
“Chandrasekhar’s pending electricity bill was₹9,000, so his connection was cut. He had then got an illegal connection. Koppal GESCOM EE Rajesh told Prajavani that the employee was attacked because he questioned Chandrasekhar,” read the report.
There is no mention in any of the reports that the accused had spoken about the Congress’s election guarantee.
We contacted the senior correspondent of Kannada Prabha, Somashekhara Reddy, who reported on the incident. He said, “This incident has no relation to the Congress’s poll promise of free electricity. The accused had unpaid electricity bills amounting to ₹9000, despite which he still got an illegal connection. When the officials went to question him on this, he assaulted the staffer.”
We came across this tweet by Anusha Ravi Sood, political editor, thesouthfirst.com, sharing a video of Koppal SP Yashoda Vantagodi issuing a clarification on the assault case.
A Hindustan Times report dated May 25, 2023, stated, “Police, however, clarified that the altercation was not over the poll promise. but the man’s refusal to pay pending bills. Hiremath had not cleared his dues adding up to ₹9,990 for the past 6 months.”
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Viral video of man assaulting GESCOM staffer in Karnataka falsely linked to Congress’s election promise of free electricity.
Result: Partly False
Deccan Herald report , May 24, 2023
Prajavani report, May 24, 2023
Kannadaprabha report, May 24, 2023
Conversation with Somashekhara Reddy, senior correspondent, Kannada Prabha
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