In Tamil Nadu, the Chief Minister’s secretariat has trained its guns on the popular Tamil weekly Ananda Vikatan for running a comprehensive series on the governance of AIADMK government.
The series titled ‘Mantri-Tantri’ has been running for the past 30 weeks and the publication found itself facing not just a defamation suit but also muscle-flexing from the ruling party after party men allegedly disrupted supply of the publication in their districts.
Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa filed a defamation case in the Principal Sessions Court in Chennai against Ananda Vikatan’s article titled ‘What has Jayalalithaa done so far?,’ which was part ‘Mantri-Tantri’ series, published on November 21 issue. The complaint stated that the article defamed the Chief Minister and maligned her name.
A strongly worded statement issued by the seasoned Vikatan group however declared that they will continue to speak the ‘truth’ and maintained that there was nothing new in the series against AIADMK government. They said they have been running similar series during DMK regime too.
The series they ran during DMK regime was ‘Cabinet Camera,’ packed with scathing attacks on DMK’s top ministers including M K Stalin and K N Nehru. Although there was no legal action taken then, Vikatan did face protests during the DMK regime, too, for writing about Karunanidhi’s elder son Alagiri and his nexus with notorious ‘Madurai gangs’. In another incident during DMK regime, in 2009, policemen in plain clothes entered the office of the Tamil daily newspaper, Dinamalar and arrested the news editor without a warrant for allegedly defaming actors.
A senior AIADMK leader said when Vikatan spared Karunanidhi from ‘Cabinet Camera,’ they purposefully ran ‘Mantri Tantri’ with an article targeting Jayalalithaa too.
“Problem emerged only when we wrote about her. There were no threats when we ran other stories in the series against AIADMK ministers and their poor governance,” said a senior journalist working with Vikatan group.
Besides legal action, Vikatan group’s statement said, there were efforts to stop the distribution of their publication in districts.
But government sources denied it. “We intervened only when DMK men had purchased some one lakh copies of Vikatan magazine and distributed it. Police was forced to engage in the matter after DMK men had further printed the Vikatan copies in colour and forced distributors to distribute them along with newspapers in Sivaganga and other areas,” a senior official said.
A police officer said they did not block Vikatan site or Facebook page. “Facebook will block any page if they get more than 300 complaints. May be the IT wing of the ruling party must have done it,” he said.
Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa also moved a criminal defamation charges against DMK leader M Karunanidhi, the editor of the paper Murasoli for authoring and publishing articles against her.