A BJP leader in Tamil Nadu was arrested on Friday for allegedly spreading fake news on social media. SG Suryah, the party's state secretary in Tamil Nadu, was arrested for a tweet alleging the death of a sanitation worker in Madurai. In the same tweet, Mr Suryah attacked Madurai MP Venkatesan for his silence.
The Madurai district police have denied the incident taking place in the district.
The BJP has condemned the arrest with the state president accusing the state government of using the police to curtail free speech.
"The arrest of @BJP4TamilNadu State Secretary Thiru @SuryahSG avl is highly condemnable. His only mistake was to expose the nasty double standards of the communists, allies of DMK," State BJP president K Annamalai said on Twitter.
"Using state machinery to curtail free speech & getting jittery for the slightest criticism is unbecoming of a democratically elected leader and, indeed, are signs of an autocratic leader in the making. Drawing inspiration from autocrats, TN CM Thiru @mkstalin is turning the state into a lawless jungle. These arrests will not deter us & we will continue to be bearers of the uncomfortable truth!" Mr Annamalai tweeted.
Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar termed the arrest an "overreach" and "violation of rights".
Narenthiran Nayar, Commissioner of Police, Madurai told NDTV "There is no such local body in Madurai nor such a thing happened. We have invoked sections of IT Act and attempting to incite communal clashes".
In a scathing letter aimed at Communist Party of India (CPI) Councilor Viswanathan, Mr Suryah said that a sanitation worker from Madurai died on the job as he was forced to work in faecal water due to which he developed an allergic reaction in his body.
The BJP leader lashed out at Mr Viswanathan for his double standards, for forcing the deceased sanitation worker to resort to manual scavenging despite being aware that it is prohibited by law. The letter was attached to his tweet by Suryah on his Twitter handle
In the same tweet, Suryah attacked Madurai MP Venkatesan for his silence. "Your fake politics of separatism stinks worse than that cesspool, find a way to live as a human being, mate!" a rough translation of his tweet in Tamil read.