KR Meera condemns channel debate on NRI man, says it ‘whitewashed’ his cyber crimes

Writer KR Meera and Asianet News anchor Vinu V John had an exchange of words over the handling of a topic in which Yasar Edapal, a cyber abuser was involved.
KR Meera
KR Meera
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A controversy has broken out over a discussion aired on Asianet's News Hour program on October 21 on Minister KT Jaleel’s ‘interferences with the UAE Consulate’. Among the topics discussed on Wednesday was the treatment of a nonresident Malayali in the Gulf, Yasar Edapal, whom the minister had allegedly tried to have deported from the UAE over three cyber abuse cases filed against him. Writer KR Meera has questioned the channel for giving a platform to ‘whitewash’ a harasser like Yasar Edapal.

During the discussion, VPP Musthafa, a leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), pointed out that Yasar, who calls himself a worker of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), had cyber bullied women with abusive comments, and then proceeded to read out a comment that Yasar had posted on a woman’s Facebook wall.

On another news channel the same night, a CPI(M) leader refused to take part in a discussion on which Yasar was present, calling him a harasser and Yasar was subsequently asked to leave.

The next day, on October 22, Vinu V John, Asianet News anchor who led the discussion, issued an apology to viewers for the ‘obscene’ content that the CPI(M) leader had read out, and commented that the party should not send such ‘cultureless’ people for discussions.

However, following Vinu’s apology, freelance journalist Sunitha P Devadas put out a video, questioning the anchor’s stand of taking the ‘abuser’s side’. The comment that VPP Musthafa read out had been posted by Yasar on Sunitha Devdas’s FB wall.

"Mr Vinu V John just think of this. You had so much emotion hearing the cuss words that someone called someone else. So how big will be the pain of the woman who heard it? How horrible will be the trauma? But you and Asianet stood with the abuser,” Sunitha says in the video.

Watch: Sunitha Devadas's video 

Following this, writer KR Meera put a Facebook post, realising that Sunitha was in fact cyber-bullied by Yasar for expressing her support for the writer a few months ago. This happened at a time Meera was engaged in a war of words with Congress leader and MLA VT Balram. She had to face a lot of abusive comments by supporters of Balram. It was at this point that Sunitha wrote in support of Meera, for which Yaser abused her online.

Meera in her Facebook post wrote that the anchor appears to have been more offended by the CPI(M) leader who read out the obscene comments than the presence of the person who wrote it. "It is Yasar Edapal who used the cuss words. It is Sunitha who received it. But what offended the channel is not Yasar Edapal. The anchor did not ask for an apology for inviting Yasar Edapal," she wrote, adding that no one has apologised to Sunitha. She ends the post by offering her apology to Sunitha, since no one else has apologised to the woman who was abused.

Then, reacting to Meera's post, Vinu said that it was factually incorrect to say Yasar was present for the discussion, as he was not, only Yasar’s father appeared on the show. He chided Meera saying that since she once worked as a journalist, she should have at least checked her facts before writing such posts. He also said that he has respect for Meera as a writer.

Watch: Vinu's response to Meera's post

Meera's reply to Vinu's comment in the wee hours of Sunday morning is a detailed response on Asianet News discussions. She asks how her facts could be wrong when the discussion itself was for the 'injustice that Yasar faced' and showed his visuals and documents 'whitewashing' him.

"Since Yasar was participating in other channels at the time, didn't you bring his father and two others to represent him? Didn't Vinu also argue for Yasar Edapal? Did you have the discussion without knowing about Yasar's obscene posts and the misogyny in them? What kind of journalism is it when you hold a discussion for someone about whom you do not have a minimum understanding?" Meera asks in her post.

She also pointed out a news story that the channel had broadcast about her two months ago. Saying that Asianet News published fake news about her, Meera talks about its day-long broadcast of the story 'KR Meera posted at MG University School of Letters, bypassing rules'. It is not factually correct to call it posting when her name was suggested to a board which will have no salary or any other benefits, she says.

"Is your accusation that my name was added after correcting a list recommended by an expert committee factually correct? Is it correct that there was an expert committee?" Meera asks. She received no apology for any of this 'fake news' about her from the channel the way Yasar's comment read out by Musthafa was apologised for.

In response to Vinu’s comment that he respected her as a writer, Meera said that she doesn't like his news hour programme and he can stop liking her as a writer for this particular comment. 

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