Maridhas has levelled several allegations against News18’s Tamil Nadu team, and at one point, tweeted a screenshot of an email claiming a senior editor at News18 had sent it to him.

Maridhas has levelled several allegations against News18’s Tamil Nadu team.
news Crime Sunday, July 12, 2020 - 18:55

YouTuber Maridhas has been running a targeted campaign against journalists at television channel News18 Tamil Nadu over the past few days. Accusing the channel and journalists of being ‘anti-Hindu’ and alleging that they had direct and indirect connections with political outfits, Maridhas said he had written a complaint to the News18 management in Delhi. On July 10, he posted a screenshot of an email he had purportedly received from a News18 editor, and further claimed that the management had ‘accepted all the allegations’ against the Tamil Nadu team.

Now, TV18 Broadcast Limited, that News18 is a part of, has approached the police in Chennai, accusing Maridhas of forging the email from a senior editor at News18 and circulating it on his social media channels.

Here’s the timeline of the controversy.

An organised campaign against certain journalists in Tamil Nadu began on July 2 after Maridhas posted a video demanding an investigation be conducted into alleged bias of News18's Tamil Nadu media unit. Maridhas claimed in his petition that certain journalists and editors in News18 Tamil were direct or indirect supporters of Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). He personally attacked News 18 editor Gunasekaran and went on to allege that 70% of the News18 Tamil Nadu media unit was filled with supporters of DK and DMK.

M Gunasekaran incidentally is the first Tamil television journalist to win the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award for regional journalism. He received the award for his ground reports on the fisherfolk in Kanyakumari during Cyclone Ockhi in 2017.

Maridhas also alleged that the channel adopted an anti-Hindu stance. In the video and later in a petition, the YouTuber made harsh comments and unfounded allegations against several reporters in the channel.

He then took his campaign a step further on July 10, in a video where he claimed News 18 editor Vinay Sarawagi had responded to his allegations.

In the screenshot of a mail he posted in his video, he said 'Vinay Sarawagi' had written that the network had taken notice of his earlier video. "As an institution of unbiased professionalism, we have conducted a preliminary investigation and found most of your allegations are true. In this regard, we assure you that suitable actions will be initiated to prove our commitment to unbiased journalism," the screenshot read.

However the editor who Maridhas claimed had emailed him, cleared the air soon after. The real Vinay Sarawagi tweeted, “There is a forged email in my name circulating on Twitter and WhatsApp. My office has initiated legal action in the matter."

Maridhas then went on his Youtube channel to claim that the mail had come from a Network18 server and that he 'triple-checked' its authenticity. The network however has denied this and approached the police. Further, the screenshot posted by Maridhas shows the poorly concealed sender’s email to be from a Protonmail server – which doesn’t allow IP address tracking.

In their complaint to the Chennai police, TV18 Broadcast Limited, the company that owns the channel, has dismissed any allegations of religious bias in its reposting and stated that Maridhas's allegations are false and mischievous.

The channel has pointed out that Maridhas's acts and videos on social media are aimed at provoking and outraging the feelings of Hindus in Tamil Nadu and that it promoted hatred between religious groups. They have further stated that his video would incite followers of Hindu religion to commit offences against News18 Tamil's editor and reporters and also provoke people to break public peace and commit other offences.

The network has also reiterated that it has equal regard for all religions and that it does not discriminate on the basis of religion or run any 'anti-Hindu' campaign, as alleged. In the complaint, they have said that they are fully committed to the principles enshrined in the Constitution of India and that they diligently follow the law of the land. 

The network has pointed out that Maridhas's statements are defamatory and in addition to this, he has made false claims by posting a fabricated mail that he claims to have got from Network18.





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