How Tamil Weekly Nakkheeran Editor Gopal’s ‘Mission Pollachi’ Has Come Unstuck

Swarajya Staff

Mar 20, 2019, 05:21 PM | Updated 05:21 PM IST

Nakkheeran editor R R Gopal
Nakkheeran editor R R Gopal
  • Time is running out for Nakkheeran Gopal and those standing behind him. With the CBI taking over the Pollachi case, it can be hoped the investigations also cover the way the issue has been sensationalised and politicised.
  • In short, Gopal’s ‘Mission Pollachi’ has flopped badly.
  • For a magazine that was started on an investment of just Rs 4,000 when the proprietor would have normally had to spend at least Rs 10 lakh, Nakkheeran has come a long way.

    Most of the time, its editor R R Gopal, has been either smart or has played it smart.

    Sometimes, the smartness has helped. For instance, the magazine, defying the state government, published an autobiography of one of Chennai’s most notorious criminals, ‘Auto’ Shankar, who was hanged for murdering six people. When the magazine announced its decision, the government forbade Nakkheeran from publishing Shankar’s autobiography. But Gopal approached the Supreme Court, and in a landmark judgement, won the case to publish the autobiography in 1994.

    In 2002, Gopal was arrested for possessing an unlicensed revolver and ammunition. His brother filed a habeas corpus writ in the Madras High Court and got him released after an eight-month detention.

    What helped Gopal was an undertaking he got from the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments in 2000, when he was made the mediator to free Kannada film actor Rajkumar, who was taken hostage by notorious sandalwood smuggler and forest brigand, Veerappan.

    When Gopal set out on the mediation effort (amidst rumours of a deal between him and the forest brigand), he had both governments give him a written assurance that he would not be taken to task for meeting the brigand for mediation.

    Gopal’s smartness, however, came unstuck in January 2012 when he came out with an article on the late Jayalalithaa, saying that she ate beef and also served it to All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) founder M G Ramachandran.

    An enraged AIADMK cadre ransacked his office in Chennai and burnt copies of the magazine. Gopal, probably for the first time since the launch of his magazine, issued a public apology for the article.

    There are still allegations that Nakkheeran and Sun Television had come up with an expose on Swami Nithyananda, allegedly linking him in a relationship with a Tamil film actress in 2010. But the case is still pending before the courts.

    Since then, the Nakkheeran editor has kept a low profile before emerging from the shadows in the second half of last year. In July last year, Nakkheeran came out with an article based on an audio tape of a college professor asking her women students “to compromise” with some officials to get high marks.

    The article linked the state Governor and Raj Bhavan to the marks scandal, resulting in the Governor’s private secretary filing a case with the police. On 9 October, Tamil Nadu police arrested him at the airport while he was on his way to Pune.

    Investigations have reportedly revealed that the professor had dropped names of higher officials in the state to force her students to do what she wanted. The case is being heard by a local court in Madurai.

    Gopal’s arrest, in fact, turned out to be lucky for him as it made the wider public forget his yellow journalism. Strangely, his magazine’s scurrilous writing of the past was forgotten and opposition parties celebrated him as a star.

    This probably has given Gopal and Nakkheeran the courage to try and mislead people over the Pollachi sexual assault case. The Pollachi case is about a grooming gang - no one knows how old - that came to light through an assault incident on 12 February. Two weeks later, three persons of the gang were arrested followed by two more. All the five accused have been detained under Goondas Act.

    However, Gopal and many in the opposition, especially from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), created another controversy on 11 March, by linking certain members of the ruling party to the assault and grooming case. The timing of the allegations raised suspicions as it came very close to the announcement of the election schedule on 10 March.

    Even more glaring is the fact that the DMK, which has tried to avoid contesting in the western districts of Tamil Nadu fearing a rout by the AIADMK, has chosen to contest from Pollachi Lok Sabha constituency.

    There are other questions raised about the selective activism of Nakkheran on the Pollachi case. Nakkheeran or Gopal have never spoken about or taken up the cause of either #MeToo survivors like playback singer Chinmayi or cases such as the alleged molestation of over 50 children of a school near Tiruchi.

    The problem with Gopal is that he has done two things that end up exposing his malafide intentions. Firstly, the chronology of the events that he comes out with is totally contrary to what has happened. Second, he tries to dubiously link a mishap that took place in 2017 to the Pollachi incident just to link the involvement of the son of Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker V Jayaraman. Jayaraman also happens to be the man who could probably decide the outcome in the constituency.

    Gopal, in a video says that the police slept over the complaint filed by the victim on 12 February and they swung into action only on 26 February. What the Nakkheeran editor is trying to hide is the fact that on 12 February it was the grooming gang that went to the police to file a complaint against the victim’s brother and relatives.

    The gang was beaten up by the victim’s relatives after she complained to her family. The relatives then found that the mobiles of the gang members contained pictures of some more women and girls and took possession of those phones.

    When the police summoned the victim’s family following the complaint lodged by the grooming gang, it approached Jayaraman, who then asked the police to get to the bottom of the case.

    Much to Gopal’s disappointment, Jayaraman is not trying to flee from the cameras, or giving excuses. He is facing all questions on the issue, fielded by anyone, and that has put Nakkheeran and DMK on the back foot. That Jayaraman has had his way in getting a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is another proof of how the tabloid tried to sensationalise the whole issue politically.

    Gopal’s argument that Jayaraman’s son is involved, without any slightest indication, is ridiculous. The scribe says the deputy speaker’s son was involved in a vehicle accident in 2017 when he was studying in PSG college and a girl lost her life in it.

    The Nakkheeran editor then comes up with the unthinkable allegation that the politician’s son would have been engaged with girls in the car when it met with accident.

    Jayaraman does not deny the accident but says that his son and his classmates had gone out to a restaurant when the vehicle’s steering got locked and hit the median on the road. The deputy speaker says that investigations were made and nothing untoward was reported, which could have led to the accident.

    Next, Gopal argues that when his reporters called Jayaraman, the latter had reportedly told him that his son was at an age where he would not commit any sexual act. Jayaraman, in an interview to Puthiya Tamizhagam, denies saying this. He concedes that even a 12-year-old kid these days, could commit such acts.

    Thus, quite a few of Gopal’s allegations have not stood strong. Now, it has also come to light that a DMK functionary’s child was close to one of the members of the grooming gang. Will Nakkheeran and his team follow up on this new information to ensure justice to the victim?

    In the name of seeking justice, Gopal and Nakkheeran have come up with excerpts of the videos that could sometime even border on voyeurism. More importantly, how did Gopal get hold of the videos? Who gave it to him? Is it a fact that he got them for a few thousand rupees?

    Throughout the video, just to work up the viewers emotion, he calls those in the grooming gang dogs and says they should be shot. And nowhere in the video does Gopal seemed to be concerned about the victims or their families or the trauma they would have to undergo.

    Nakkheeran and Gopal may have got away with their so-called expose of Swami Nithyananda by releasing a video that allegedly shows the godman’s proximity to a Tamil film actress. Though, he is not fully out of the woods, as the case is underway, one of the persons responsible for the telecast of the video has come out to say it is a fake one.

    Nakkheeran and Gopal have always seen better times when the DMK was in power, though Gopal maintains that the DMK has also filed cases against him.

    The point is DMK has always treated him with kid gloves and has even honoured his standards of journalism with the Thanthai Periyar award in 2010. Unfortunately, even renowned journalists have now moved closer to him as their prime objective seems to be to herald the DMK back into power in Tamil Nadu and, if possible, ensure the defeat of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha elections.

    Time is running out for Nakkheeran Gopal and those standing behind him. With the CBI taking over the Pollachi case, the investigations should also cover the way the issue has been sensationalised and politicised. They could even look at Gopal’s role in this.

    People are aware of Gopal’s motive and his real colour. What he and his backers have to realise is that the colour has begun to fade, and fast. In short, Gopal’s ‘Mission Pollachi’ has flopped badly.

    Get Swarajya in your inbox.