Indian Democracy Matters, strongly condemns the vicious social media campaign being carried out against certain senior journalists in Tamil Nadu, who are known for their independent and unbiased views on political and social issues.

The attacks are part of a pattern also seen in many other parts of India, where independent journalist voices are sought to be suppressed using a mix of fake news, deeply personal attacks, veiled threats and even foul abuse.

Since 3 July this year a series of videos have been uploaded on YouTube by one M.Maridas, which level baseless allegations against news anchors and journalists working for prominent Tamil TV channels such as News 18 Tamil Nadu, Puthiya Thalaimurai and News 7 Tamil.

In one video for example, M.Maridas, repeatedly refers to News18’s senior editor M Gunasekaran being the son-in-law of DravidaKazhagam leader Kali Poongduran, insinuating professional bias on part of the former due to his personal relationship. Similarly, in another video, he shows the family photo of another news anchor and points out his wife and claims she is an ‘atheist’.

M.Maridas, a former engineer turned social commentator, is the author of a book titled ‘ ‘Why I support Narendra Modi’, which was released in 2018.

A baseless allegation has also been made against News 18 Tamil Nadu Bureau Chief Haseef Mohamed, claiming he is secretly operating a YouTube channel called ‘Karuppar Koottam’, run by rationalists and atheists and also known for its controversial statements on religion and caste. The Bharatiya Janata Party in Tamil Nadu has already filed an FIR against the Karuppar Kootam producers for hurting religious sentiments and one person is already in police custody. Based on Maridas’s claim the BJP cadre have also demanded the arrest of Haseef Mohamed.

Maridhas has said in one of his videos that he has written to News 18 management to sack the journalists and anchors who are from ‘atheist’ or ‘communist’ backgrounds. In the another video Maridas falsely claimed to have the copy of an email,purportedly from News 18 management saying it has accepted all of his complaints against these journalists and promising to ‘take action’.

The News 18 group has subsequently clarified on its Twitter handle that no such email was sent to anyone and has filed a complaint with the Commissioner of Police, Chennai against the presenter for forgery. Haseef Mohammad has also filed a complaint with the police against Maridas for associating him falsely with the Karuppar Kootam group.

We call upon everyone to protest against the intimidation of journalists in Tamil Nadu and help preserve the independence of the media and the right to work professionally without being subjected to hate campaigns of any kind.

Indian Democracy Matters is a group of people all over India that stands for the revitalization of the country’s democracy and Defence of the Indian Constitution

Contact: Email: defendtheindianconstitution@gmail.com

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