Updated: August 17, 2021 4:11:59 pm
In Chennai’s Madhavaram, the buzz around Manmohan Mishra hasn’t quietened since the 62-year-old YouTuber was arrested last week over his videos.
“Always clad in saffron,” said a neighbour. “He is the Ramdev man here,” said another, referring to Mishra’s association with Patanjali products. “Man of few words. Calm and peaceful”, said a third, “except at night, when he is shooting his videos. He is like a public speaker then… gives loud speeches.”
On Friday evening, a team of 10 policemen, including a CB-CID officer, came all the way from Uttar Pradesh and arrested Mishra following an FIR registered against him in UP’s Jaunpur, from where he originally hails, for allegedly making unrestrained statements regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and creating fear among the public through his videos.
Most of Mishra’s videos — self-shot on his cellphone — have him sitting in his room, against a blue curtain, railing against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the RSS, and the policies of the BJP government at the Centre.
Senior police officials in Jaunpur said the FIR has no mention of his statements against PM Modi and the others, and that the case against him is under IPC Section 505 (statements relating to public mischief), along with provisions of the Information Technology Act and the Epidemic Diseases Act.
Sanjeev Mishra, SHO of the Kotwali police station, where the FIR has been registered, said, “In his videos, he says things like at least three people will die from each family in the third wave… and around 54 crore people will die in India. All this was creating panic among the public.”
Asked why the Jaunpur police took cognisance of the matter when Mishra lives in Tamil Nadu, the official said the 62-year-old is a permanent resident of Jaunpur.
Though Mishra has lived in Chennai for 35 years and is known to speak Tamil fluently, his videos on YouTube, where he has 695 subscribers, are mostly in Hindi.
A relative of Mishra’s, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he used to run an agency that helped people apply for PAN cards and other government services. “But after many of these services turned online, he stopped his business,” the relative said.
Mishra later started working with Bharat Swabhiman, a Trust that promotes swadeshi products, especially Patanjali Ayurveda, earning him the image of “Ramdev’s man” in the locality.
A Tamil Nadu police officer said Mishra also worked as an agent for Hindi-speaking labourers working in Chennai.
When The Indian Express visited Mishra’s home on Monday evening, his wife Maya said their son Manoj had gone to UP to get him out on bail. The accused is now being brought to Jaunpur on transit remand.
Calling Mishra a “patriot” and a “staunch nationalist”, the relative said, “He used to be a supporter of Modi too… Politically, he is not attached to any group. He is just like so many people you see these days who are very loud about their views. He is just another opinionated old man… not a troublemaker. How many people will you arrest for airing an opinion,” said Mishra’s relative, adding that he had high blood pressure and has mostly been sick since he was infected with Covid-19 last year.
“He has heart problems. At the peak of the first Covid wave last year, many people known to him died in UP, after which he had multiple panic attacks. We hope to convince the court and the government to spare him. After all, he was an old man,” the relative added.
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