Maridhas, the video blogger who’s got the DMK rattled
Snapshot
  • What is the video blog about DMK that has angered the Dravidian party?

    Simply put, Maridhas has explained how the DMK could have had access to money from hawala transactions to support protests against the central and state governments.

On Monday (27 August), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (DMK’s) Rajya Sabha MP and the party’s organising secretary, R S Bharathi, filed a complaint with the Chennai police commissioner A K Viswanathan.

Bharathi’s complaint was against the popular social commentator and video blogger M Maridhas, for “repeated publication of false news” and “creating public mischief”.

The DMK’s Rajya Sabha MP has sought action against Maridhas under Section 505(2) of the Indian Penal Code and Information Technology Act. The move by Bharathi is not surprising because Maridhas, a native of Madurai, had been calling the DMK’s bluff on various issues for quite sometime now.

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One of the most popular videos he made against the DMK was the one in which he challenged the party to compare the income of its local ward councillors with that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s.

Maridhas was taking on DMK’s campaign against Modi and the Rafale aircraft purchase during elections.

So, it is no surprise that the DMK saw an opportunity to try and trap Maridhas with his latest video blog. This move has, however, backfired on the DMK.

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By Tuesday noon, #ISupportMaridhas was second among the top 10 Twitter trends in India, while DMK, trying to hit back, came out with #MentalMaridhas tweets.

What is the video blog about DMK that has angered the Dravidian party?

Simply put, Maridhas has explained how the DMK could have had access to money from hawala transactions to support protests against the central and state governments.

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If one were to give credence to the rumours of funding for the DMK during elections to the Lok Sabha in May this year — the party won 38 of the 39 seats at stake in Tamil Nadu — then probably Maridhas has exposed the tip of an iceberg.

The whole issue against DMK has stemmed from the way it has gone about opposing the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir earlier this month by the Modi government.

Maridhas points out how the DMK President M K Stalin bitterly criticised the abrogation of Article 370, which had accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir. DMK had called for an all-party meeting and had even urged the centre to review its strategy.

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The party then said it would hold a demonstration in New Delhi on 22 August. In the midst of all this, DMK spokesman, A Saravanan, said that Kashmir was not part of India, drawing widespread flak for the whole party.

The criticism of Saravanan’s statement made DMK tone down its criticism and change its strategy. On 23 August, the party said that it was against the way the centre implemented its plan to abrogate Article 370 and not against the dropping of the special status to Jammu and Kashmir per se.

Maridhas pointed out that DMK’s changed strategy also provides proof of how the Pakistani media — especially Radio Pakistan and Daily Pakistan — were focussing on how the Dravidian party was opposing the Modi government.

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The Pakistan media terms DMK as “India’s third largest party in Parliament” to provide teeth to its anti-India news and views.

One of the points raised in Maridhas’ video is how Daily Pakistan had first published Stalin’s view of creating a separate Dravida Nadu (a view that he has since toned down) which was then followed by the One India website. According to him, this is a development that needs to be probed thoroughly.

Maridhas has then gone on to draw a parallel between Kashmir and Tamil Nadu, coming out with details of how unaccounted and illegally earned money is being used in the state to stage protests and further DMK’s cause.

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According to Maridhas, just like the way Jammu and Kashmir parties — National Conference and People’s Democratic Party — support separatist organisations such as the Hurriyat, the DMK also supports similar organisations such as May 17, Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam.

He alleges that Santiago Martin, the lottery king of Tamil Nadu, is providing funds to separatist organisations like May 17 the way Dawood Ibrahim has been doing for organisations like the Hurriyat.

Maridhas has used documents obtained from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to prove his charges. According to him, Martin’s son Martin Jose Daison is involved in this.

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Referring to a 9 July Madras High Court order this year, the social commentator says that the court had wanted the police to find out how the May 17 organisation’s founder, Thirumurugan Gandhi, was getting funds.

(Incidentally, 17 May is the date when Vellupillai Prabhakaran, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam chief, died. May 17 claims to fight for the rights of Tamils in Sri Lanka and hence has named itself on the date of Prabhakaran’s death.)

Maridhas says Daison is one of those funding Thirumurugan Gandhi. Daison, who was among the four to be arrested on charges of sedition, has registered over 30 companies in his name and he is the director in all these companies.

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There have been some curious transactions in all these companies. For example, Martin Windfarms Pvt Ltd, a Coimbatore registered company, appointed Daison as one of its directors, with a salary of Rs 3 crore a month.

Another example is that of Skyride Hi-Tech Tours and Travels, in which Daison is again a director. Daison owns the company and has taken a Rs 3.98 crore loan from three sources — two sister concerns, Vaanam Constructions and Earthcraft Constructions, and from Daison himself.

The loans were unsecured ones, which means they were interest-free and there was no mention of the period within which they were to be repaid.

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The lending of loans was done by these three entities and it was a tactic used to bring in hundreds of crores of illegally earned money. Daison’s salaries from each company in which he is a director run into crores. All this was just another way of bringing in hawala money into the country, alleges Maridhas.

Maridhas alleges that Kolkata is the syndicate of hawala money transactions in India. The proof for this, he says, are the search operations carried out by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) in September 2015 in Kolkata.

Those search operations helped the central government unearth a hawala syndicate being operated by Dawood Ibrahim from Kolkata. Fake lottery tickets were used as a route to bring in hawala money to fund separatists and terrorists in the country, the CBDT operations revealed.

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Maridhas points out that on 17 August last year Daison had been made a director of the Teasel Marketing Private Limited, which has its headquarters at Sahapur Colony in Kolkata. His brother, Jose Charles Martin, is also a director in the company. Teasel Marketing is in the lottery business.

Maridhas contends that Santiago Martin and his family, including his sister, are using the lottery for hawala money transactions in the country. The Martin family has registered nearly 400 companies in their names and they could have access to over Rs 10,000 crore hawala money, Maridhas alleges.

On 30 April this year, the Income Tax Department conducted search operations at various premises of Santiago Martin. Three days later, his accountant, T Palanisamy, was found dead.

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Maridhas wonders why the mystery of Palanisamy’s death was never made an issue, particularly by the Martin family.

Maridhas also says that not a single Opposition party nor the normally proactive Tamil cinema actors or the mainstream media raised the issue of this mysterious death. “All these people kept quiet because Martin’s money is circulating among them,” he has charged.

The video blogger has then charged the DMK with supporting anti-government protests over the last two-and-a-half years, right from the protests for holding jallikattu (bullfights) to the latest ones against abrogation of Article 370.

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“Instead of politically taking up these issues, the DMK is encouraging organisation like the Dravida Kazhagam and May 17 to stage protests,” he alleges. (Dravida Kazhagam is the organisation from which the DMK was launched after a dispute between its founders.)

There seems to be some truth in these charges since the DMK hasn’t directly taken on the union or state governments, particularly on issues like the jallikattu ban, opposition to tap coal-bed methane and hydrocarbon projects, and protests demanding closure of the Sterlite Copper plant in Thoothukudi.

(The Thoothukudi protests ended in violence with 13 persons getting killed in the police firing on 22 May last year and the Tamil Nadu government ordering the copper plant to be shut on 28 May last year.)

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Maridhas says if the links between the Martin family, DMK and organisations such as May 17 are probed deeply, it would throw up a Pakistani connection.

In an earlier video, the social commentator has also provided details of how some non-government organisations run by Christians are getting funds from foreign countries.

Some of these organisations are run by DMK-supporters like Bishop Erza Sargunam of Evangelical Church of India. Another popular video of Maridhas was how the DMK was totally anti-Hindu.

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So, it is not surprising that Maridhas’ attempt to draw a parallel between the developments in Kashmir and the growing support for separatism in Tamil Nadu with DMK’s support, has earned him the wrath of Arivalayam, the DMK headquarters on the arterial Anna Salai.

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