Chennai police on Monday filed an FIR against leading media outlet Vikatan, whistleblower Savukku Sankar and popular YouTuber Maridhas based on a complaint filed by real estate firm G Square Realtors claiming that they threatened to tarnish the reputation of their founder and managing director Bala Ramajayam.
The FIR was registered on a complaint from G Square's chief compliance officer V. Purushotham Kumar over the weekend.
On Sunday, Mylapore police arrested Kevin, a Chennai-based businessman, based on the same complaint. He has been remanded in judicial custody.
In his complaint, Kumar claimed Kevin had threatened to publish false news against the company if they did not pay a bribe of Rs 50 lakhs per month. Kumar also alleged in the complaint that Kevin threatened to use popular social media influencers to spread false news against the company on Twitter and YouTube.
G Square has been at the eye of the storm over allegations that it has close ties with the family members of state Chief Minister and DMK Supremo M.K Stalin. The company, which aggregates land parcels for selling big corporates and setting up IT parks (besides several luxury housing projects), has seen a meteoric rise in its fortunes in the last couple of years.
In April 2021, the Income Tax department officials raided the residence of Bala Ramajayam, the managing director of G Square Realtor's Private Limited. IT department sleuths also searched premises belonging to a real-estate firm.
According to media reports, IT raids at G-Square premises were part of an investigation against Sabareesan, son-in-law of Stalin. During the same day, IT officials also conducted raids at premises belonging to Senthamarai Sabareesan, daughter of Stalin and Karthik Mohan, a close associate of Sabareesan and son of Annanagar MLA Mohan.
Opposition Party Condemn Police Action.
Several opposition parties, including AIADMK, BJP and NTK, have condemned the police action against Vikatan, Savukku Shankar and Maridhas.
Edapadi Palanisamy, the former CM and leader of opposition in the state assembly, called the action a shameful assault on media freedom.
K.Annamalai, the state BJP president, also condemned the police's attempt to stifle media voices for 'exposing the dubious dealings of DMK family'.
Kalaiselvan, editor and publisher of the magazine, also filed a police complaint against Kevin and the real estate firm’s MD Ramajayam seeking action for levelling a “false charge” and “fabricating false evidence”.
The Chennai Press Club said in a statement that it “did not expect this from the DMK government”.
Political Observers Surprised By Inclusion of Savukku Shankar's Name in FIR
Many political observers have expressed surprise over the inclusion of Savukku Shankar‘s name in the FIR.
"Vikatan had published a series of articles highlighting the close proximity between the founders of the real estate firm and DMK first family. Maridhas had recently released a video detailing the links between the family members and the real estate firm. But i am surprised that government is also targeting Savukku Shankar, who is an ideological fello-traveller of Dravidian movement," a journalist working with a Tamil daily told Swarajya.
Achimuthu Shankar aka Savukku Shankar, a popular face on Tamil digital sites, shot to prominence during the 2008-2010 period after an anonymous blog that he used to run published a series of articles on various corrupt deals linked to ruling DMK and police cops close to the ruling party.
Shankar, who was then working as a lower division clerk (LDC) in the directorate of vigilance and anti-corruption (DVAC) following the demise of his father in 1991, was arrested for leaking sensitive information to the press. He was arrested and as per his own account subjected to third-degree torture in jail.
After keeping a low profile for a few years, Shankar reemerged as a prominent critic of the previous ADMK government. Shankar recast himself as a supporter of the Dravidian-Periyarist movement and became visible in various media outlets. In the run-up to the 2021 assembly elections, he ran a campaign against AIADMK- BJP.
According to some DMK insiders, Savukku Shankar is seen as aligned to a faction within the party owing allegiance to party MP Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, the sister of CM Stalin. Few others maintain that he is now operating as a cheerleader of Congress after his close associate Sasikant Senthil, a former IPS officer from Karnataka, joined the party.
Over the last few months, Savukku Shankar became a bitter critic of the DMK government especially targeting the party's heir apparent Udayanidhi Stalin.
Responding to FIR filed against him, Savukku Shankar, in an interview, claimed that he was being framed by Shankar Jaiswal, the Chennai city police commissioner and section of DMK.
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