A woman journalist in Tamil Nadu has approached the police after repeated threats and abuses from men allegedly connected to Tamil Nadu Minister for Municipal Administration and Rural Development SP Velumani, following another news outlet’s exposé on him.
On September 7, Times Now ran a story on Minister SP Velumani allegedly awarding government contracts of the Coimbatore Corporation to his brother and close associates. Shortly after the exposé aired, Komal Gautham, a senior correspondent with the Times of India allegedly received abusive messages from Chandraprakash, a Coimbatore Corporation contractor. Chandraprakash has been named in the exposé as co-owner of many of the companies mentioned in the channel's investigation for having bagged contacts on account of their alleged proximity to the Minister.
In screenshots of their conversation that have now gone viral, Chandraprakash calls the journalist vile names and tells her not to expect bribes from him. Even as the journalist asks him to be mindful of his language, Chandraprakash continues to message her in derogatory language.
The following day, Chandraprakash called the Assistant Editor of Times of India and Coimbatore Bureau Chief Mayilvaganan and continued abusing Komal. When the editor informed Chandraprakash that ToI's story on civil contract fraud at the Coimbatore Corporation was pending before the Madras High Court and hence did not warrant discussion, the contractor continued to threaten the editor and the journalist.
Komal then took to Twitter to call out the abuses and threats hurled at her.
After @TimesNow expose on @SPVelumanicbe his associates text me and call my seniors defaming me. These corrupt people claim I’m corrupt & I went to Times now. They sent me abusive texts & threaten Me. They think this will scare us & stop us 4m exposing corruption. @Ahmedshabbir20— Komal Gautham (@KomalGauthamTOI) September 8, 2018
Following this, the editor and correspondent filed a complaint against Chandraprakash and others who may be behind the abuse with the Chennai Police commissioner on Monday.
Seeking police protection for the journalists as well as the offices of Times of India, they clarify, “The fact remains that it was Times Now and not the Times of India that carried the story on September 7. These two are different organisations working independently, though they are part of the Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited (BCCL) conglomerate. The Times of India has nothing to do with the September 7 exposé.”
The journalists have sought action under the Information Technology Act as well as IPC.
The All India Democratic Women’s Association too has lodged a complaint with the Coimbatore Commissioner, demanding an FIR be filed against the Chandraprakash for threatening Komal.