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Tamil magazine, activist, YouTuber face blackmail charge over article

The complaint alleged that Kevin demanded Rs 50 lakh to prevent the publication of an article in the magazine in January, alleging links between Stalin’s son-in-law Sabareesan and the firm.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai |
Updated: May 25, 2022 1:12:29 pm
M K Stalin, , Chennai police, Tamil Nadu, Tamil Nadu news, Indian Express, India news, current affairs, Indian Express News Service, Express News Service, Express News, Indian Express India NewsChief Minister M K Stalin

A DAY after the arrest of a man for allegedly making extortion calls to a prominent real estate company in Tamil Nadu over a purported article linking the firm to Chief Minister M K Stalin’s son-in-law, Chennai Police have named a popular Tamil magazine, a former Vigilance employee who is now known as a whistleblower and a YouTuber in the case.

Biweekly magazine Junior Vikatan, Savukku Shankar and Maridhass were booked by the police after the main accused, identified as Kevin, was arrested for allegedly making “threatening phone calls…on behalf of Junior Vikatan and the others”, based on a complaint filed by Purushotham Kumar, Chief Compliance Officer of G Square Realtors.

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The complaint alleged that Kevin demanded Rs 50 lakh to prevent the publication of an article in the magazine in January, alleging links between Stalin’s son-in-law Sabareesan and the firm. It stated that the article was published in Junior Vikatan after the firm refused to pay the bribe.

The DMK leadership has repeatedly denied any links with G Square Realtors, which is known to be an influential player in the state’s real estate sector with several showpiece projects.

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Representatives of Junior Vikatan were not available for comment. But on Monday evening, Kalaiselvan, editor and publisher of the magazine, filed a police complaint against Kevin and the real estate firm’s founder Ramajayam seeking action for levelling a “false charge” and “fabricating false evidence”.

Shankar, a former Vigilance employee who is known to have been the whistleblower in several cases of alleged corruption in the past, claimed that the latest case was a “conspiracy” against him hatched by a lobbyist and a DMK MP. He had levelled allegations earlier against the DMK leadership and G Square Realtors.

Maridhass, a controversial YouTuber backed by BJP and Hindutva outfits, was not available for comment.

Opposition leader and AIADMK chief E K Palaniswami condemned the police move “against media and journalists”. The Chennai Press Club said in a statement that it “did not expect this from the DMK government”.

A senior police officer said Kevin was arrested from his house in Chennai early on Sunday and remanded in judicial custody. He said key evidence in the case include audio tapes involving Kevin — and an image of the purported article that he had allegedly sent to Ramajayam.

“Kevin has a shady past and had faced similar charges earlier too. He is known for dropping names and claiming VIP contacts in threat calls. There is no evidence yet of Shankar or Maridhass being part of this crime except Kevin mentioning their names in a phone call,” the officer said.

According to the complaint, Junior Vikatan and its online editions have allegedly been publishing “false, baseless, defamatory articles” about the real estate firm and its founder.

G Square Realtors was incorporated in 2012 and has been in the news, especially after the DMK came to power, for big-ticket projects across the state. Its complaint said that it “has grown from scratch to a company with a turnover of about Rs 1,000 crore, providing employment to about 600 people”.

Some of the big projects being promoted by the firm in Tamil Nadu are G Square Industrial Estate, “an affordable industrial park bang on Chennai-Arakkonam Highway”, and G Square City in Coimbatore, which is touted as the state’s first integrated smart city with over 1,663 plots for sale.

According to the FIR filed on May 21, Kevin allegedly contacted Ramajayam on January 18, claiming he was calling on behalf of Junior Vikatan’s directors. It said Kevin threatened the real estate firm’s founder and demanded Rs 50 lakh to prevent the publication of stories against the company in the magazine.

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To substantiate the threat, the FIR said, Kevin also sent an image of an article that was purportedly to be published the next day in the magazine. The complaint said that Ramajayam refused to pay the bribe, and the article was published the next day.

According to portions of the article quoted in the FIR, it alleged that G Square Realtors “had been carrying out construction work using the name of the Chief Minister’s son-in-law” — and that it allegedly arm-twisted competitors with the threat of delayed government approvals.

According to the complaint, Kevin allegedly called Ramajayam again and threatened that more damaging articles would be published in Junior Vikatan as well as through the social media handles of Maridhass and Shankar.

The complaint also alleged that Kevin had sent an unidentified person to the real estate firm’s office on May 9 with similar threats and demanding money.

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