Telangana police book YouTuber Praneeth Hanumantu for trivialising child sexual abuse

The outrage against Praneeth gained momentum after actor Sai Dharam Tej, nephew of Andhra Pradesh Deputy CM and actor Pawan Kalyan, sought the intervention of Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in the matter.
Telangana police book YouTuber Praneeth Hanumantu for trivialising child sexual abuse
Instagram/PraneethHanumantu
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Following a wide internet outrage, the Telangana police has filed an FIR against Telugu YouTuber and content creator Praneeth Hanumantu for his sexually coloured remarks on the reel of a man and a child, posing as father and daughter. Reacting to the video, Praneeth and his friends –who go by the pseudonyms Burra Yuvaraju, Adi, and Dallas Nageshwar Rao– aired a live stream on his YouTube channel named ‘Phanumantu’, sexualising the duo’s relationship. The video has now been made ‘private’ by Praneeth, whose channel has almost 1,82,000 subscribers, preventing viewing access. But some clips from his live stream were shared on social media platform X by netizens, with many seeking strict action against the YouTubers for normalising child sexual abuse. 

The campaign gained momentum after actor Sai Dharam Tej, nephew of Andhra Pradesh Deputy CM and actor Pawan Kalyan, sought the intervention of Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu and Telangana, A Revanth Reddy, on Sunday, July 7.  Praneeth is reportedly the son of IAS officer H Arun Kumar, who is working as Special Commissioner of Agriculture, Andhra Pradesh. According to reports, the YouTuber is based out of Andhra Pradesh. 

“This is beyond gruesome, disgusting, and scary. Monsters like these go unnoticed on the very much utilised social platform doing child abuse in the disguise of so-called Fun & Dank. Child Safety is the need of the hour..” Sai Dharam Tej wrote on X, appealing to the governments of both states to initiate action.

Actor Nara Rohith, nephew of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, also sought legal action against the YouTubers and suggested that there should be regulations on digital content. “Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of democracy, but it must come with responsibility. It is disheartening to see the comments made by this group. These unacceptable remarks about a little girl and her relationship with her father are reprehensible. Governments should take stringent action against such audacity. It is high time to impose regulations on digital content,” Rohith said.

Actors Manchu Manoj and Vishwak Sen also echoed similar sentiments, seeking appropriate action. Amidst this, several netizens also shared examples of the obscene remarks Praneeth makes on his broadcast group, while reacting to the content made by other content creators. 

Chief Minister Revanth Reddy promises action

Responding to Sai Dharam Tej’s post, Telangana Chief Minister Revanth Reddy, on July 7 said, “Thank you for bringing to our notice this issue @IamSaiDharamTej garu. Child safety is utmost priority for our Govt. Will look into this incident and take appropriate action.”

Telangana Deputy CM Bhatti Vikramarka also assured action and promised steps to prevent child abuse on the internet. “Child safety is indeed a top priority. we will ensure that our government takes necessary steps to prevent child abuse and exploitation on social media platforms. Let's work together to create a safer online environment for our children.”

The Telangana police’s Women’s Safety Wing informed that they have registered a case in this regard and promised “strict action.” As the offender is based out of Andhra Pradesh, police said that they are in contact with the Andhra Pradesh counterpart.  

Similarly, the Telangana Cyber Security Bureau also had registered an FIR. “We are committed to protecting all citizens, especially children. Offenders misusing social media for humor will face justice, and our team @TelanganaCOPs is diligently identifying them. Telangana Govt @TelanganaCMO and Police will intensify efforts to raise awareness about #ChildSafety and responsible social media use.” Telangana DGP Ravi Gupta said. 

Responding to the issue, Andhra Pradesh police said, “Thank you @IamSaiDharamTej for bringing this issue to our notice. We will examine whether any such cases have occurred in AP and take immediate necessary action.”

With mounting criticism, Praneeth initially sought an apology on July 6, saying that he edited out the “problematic part” from the video. “Unconditionally and unambiguously apologetic about the lapse in judgment. As a creator, my attempt is always to put a smile. Unfortunately this time I have crossed the line between what is dark and what is distasteful,” he said. 

Further, on July 7, he released a video apologising for the content. “I made the mistake of making fun of a sensitive topic like child sexual abuse. My intent was not to normalise child sexual abuse or pedophilia.” He said he intended to make a “dark comedy” based on a reel, not real people. 

“People are wrongly projecting as we had sexualised the relationship of a real father and daughter. The definition of comedy keeps changing. And it was a gross misjudgement on my part to consider this to be funny.” He also said that he would face the consequences of his actions and asked people not to target his parents.

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