The Central Crime Branch, Chennai recorded the arrest of YouTuber Maridhas on Saturday, December 11 in a 2020 case pertaining to a complaint by television channel News18 that he has used an email screenshot that was morphed. In July 2020, News18 Tamil Nadu approached the police stating that Maridhas was running a targeted campaign against the channel for several days. Maridhas had accused the channel of being anti-Hindu and alleged that the channel had direct and indirect connections with political outfits. He further wrote to the News18 management in Delhi.
On July 10, 2020, the YouTuber claimed in a video that News18 senior editor Vinay Sarawagi had responded, accepting all the allegations that he had levelled against the channel. A screenshot of an email ostensibly showed that Vinay had replied that Network18, News18’s parent organisation, had taken notice of his 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, Vinay Sarawagi soon clarified that the email was forged and that it had been circulating on Twitter and WhatsApp.
News18 included all of this in its complaint and insisted that the email posted by Maridhas was doctored.
Seventeen months after the complaint was registered, the Chennai CCB has now recorded Maridhas’s arrest in the case. The FIR had been lodged under sections 465 (punishment for forgery), 469 (forgery) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document) of the Indian Penal Code and 66B (73 [ 66B Punishment for dishonestly receiving stolen computer resource or communication device) read with 43 of the IT Act (Penalty and compensation for damage to computer, computer system, etc).
Just two days ago, Maridhas was arrested for a contentious tweet in which he alleged that Tamil Nadu is “turning into another Kashmir under DMK rule” a day after the death of Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat in a chopper accident at Coonoor in the state.
The police shared a screenshot of the tweet which was posted at 10.13 am on Thursday, December 9, in which Maridhas claimed that the state gives freedom “to create a group that can do any level of treason against the country”. The tweet was deleted, but not before it was noticed by users and screenshots were circulated on social media.
In another tweet, Maridhas claimed that DMK is the “best choice for separatist forces” and that “many DMK supporters were seen mocking the death of an army commander in an accident”.
The YouTuber was booked under sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 505(2) (making statements with intent to cause public mischief, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public) of the Indian Penal Code.