The case was filed based on an article about a real estate company and the DMK government. The company alleged attempted extortion.
Tamil bi-weekly magazine Junior Vikatan, a whistleblower and a Tamil YouTuber have been arrested for extortion and intimidation by Chennai police based on a complaint filed by G Square Realtors, a major infrastructure company in India. State. The complaint was filed after the magazine published an article alleging that the company was receiving favors because of its proximity to people associated with the ruling party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). Vikatan magazine called the criminal case an attempt to muzzle the media and says no such extortion attempt ever happened.
The first among the defendants is a man identified as Kevin who allegedly demanded Rs 50 lakh on behalf of the magazine. The complaint also claims that Kevin sent a photo of the story to the company before it was published and asked for money to hold it. Kevin was arrested by Mylapore Police in the early morning hours of May 22 and taken into custody.
The complaint was filed by Purushotham Kumar on behalf of G Square Realtors Private Limited and its Founder and Managing Director Ramajayam. The complaint claimed that Ramajayam received a phone call from Kevin on January 18, 2022. In that call, Kevin allegedly claimed he was a close associate of the directors of the Vikatan Group. Vikatan, however, denied any connection to Kevin and maintains that when the property company first sent them a defamation notice, they asked for Kevin’s details but received no response.
Savukku Shankar, a former employee of the Vigilance Department turned activist, and YouTuber Maridhas, were also named in the FIR. The plaintiff alleged that Kevin threatened that if he didn’t pay, he would force these social media influencers to write defamatory statements about the company.
Purushotham claimed in the complaint that Junior Vikatan had “continually, intentionally and deliberately published false, baseless and defamatory articles about our company and our group founder along with chief executive Ramajayam Bala”.
Kevin then allegedly threatened that “articles would start appearing in the Junior Vikatan, and would harm and defame Ramajayam and the company” unless the money was paid “through him to the directors of the Vikatan group of companies”.
However, Purushotham says the money was not paid, following which the article was published on January 23, 2022. The story went on to allege that the company had ties to the DMK and that various government officials had helped them run smoothly.
On March 3, 2022, G Square Realtors issued a legal notice to the directors of the Vikatan group of companies as well as the editor and reporters of “Junior Vikatan” magazine, according to the plaintiff. Purushotham also cites a video posted by Maridhas on May 15, 2022, “containing baseless malicious and slanderous allegations”.
Based on his complaint, an FIR was registered under Sections 147 (riot punishment), 294(b) (obscene acts and songs), 120(B) (criminal association punishment), 384 (punishment for extortion), 506(ii) (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Meanwhile, speaking to TNM, Vikatan Group of Companies legal counsel N Ramesh said Kevin was not related to the publication. He said: “We had issued a preliminary response to a legal notice issued by G-Square in February requesting Mr. Kevin’s details, so that we could prosecute him legally. However, we have received no response from G -Square Now a bogus complaint has been filed against the Vikatan Group and the CEO and other directors who have nothing to do with the editorial have been named in the FIR.
He also said, “Junior Vikatan is a bi-weekly magazine and is available in stores every Wednesday and Saturday. For an issue going out on Wednesday, the editorial content will be completed and the forms will be sent to print on Monday evening and the printed issue will be ready on Tuesday morning and sent to distributors on Tuesday. Therefore, the allegation that a person named Kevin called on Tuesday evening (18.1.2022) to stop the printing of an article is a false and imaginary story used to file a fraudulent complaint against us. This is an attack on freedom of the press by a state apparatus under cover of a false complaint.”
Reacting to the case, Savukku Shankar told TNM, “This case appears to be filed with the intention of silencing anyone who talks about G Square.” in a plot with Kevin, the police did not book them fearing a backlash.
Chennai Press Club Co-Secretary Bharathi Thamizhan said, “The Chennai Police registering the FIR against media and journalists based on a complaint from a property company is unfortunate and highly condemnable. did not expect this from the DMK government and we will not tolerate any attempt by the police to threaten the media,” he said.