All of Maridhas's videos are on pro-Hindutva topics and against politicians opposing the BJP's ideology | Photo: YouTube/Screenshot

YouTuber Maridhas has got Tamil Nadu BJP bickering

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The Tamil Nadu BJP is reportedly beset with quarrels over YouTuber Maridhas, who was arrested recently for a tweet after the tragic chopper accident in the Nilgiris district in which Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 others lost their lives.

Soon after the accident, Maridhas alleged in a tweet that Tamil Nadu was “turning into another Kashmir under DMK rule” and the party gives “freedom to form groups that can do any level of treason against the country”. The tweet added that “in such a state, any kind of conspiracy can be plotted” and that such “separatist elements should be destroyed”.

Following the tweet, Maridhas faced attacks on social media and a complaint was registered against him. He deleted his tweet but screenshots of his words had already gone viral. The police then formally registered a case and took him into custody on December 9. He is currently housed in Theni district.

On Monday, a Chennai court remanded Maridhas in judicial custody till December 27.

A native of Madurai district, Maridhas often criticised the state’s DMK government, though many of the information and claims he made in his videos were never substantiated. He is already facing several cases over the claims.

It is alleged that though cases were filed against the YouTuber even during the erstwhile AIADMK regime, the then government was lethargic in taking action against him.

More cases under investigation

The Tamil Nadu BJP is keen to get bail for the YouTuber. To this effect, some of the party heavyweights such as auditor S Gurumurthy tried to pull some strings – but in vain.

State BJP chief K Annamalai, along with his entourage, even met Governor N Ravi and gave a representation regarding the release of Maridhas.

But it appears that his criticism of the Tamil Nadu Police did not go down well with the department and has resulted in old cases filed against Maridhas being reinvestigated.

One such case relates to News 18 channel. Maridhas allegedly created a fake email ID in the name of the channel and levelled many allegations against its reporters. It resulted in more than half a dozen reporters losing their jobs. However, it was soon found that the email ID was a forged one and a case was registered against Maridhas by the media house in 2020. Other such cases too are getting consideration now.

Some of the leaders inside the BJP feel that Annamalai’s intervention has made the process of taking Maridhas out on bail more difficult.

‘Outright slander, not criticism’

Ruling out an internal dispute in the BJP over Maridhas, one of the party’s state secretaries, Karu Nagarajaran, said to The Federal that the BJP is supporting the principles which Maridhas stands for.

“Hundreds and thousands of youngsters like Maridhas will come out to carry forward the achievements of PM Narendra Modi and policies of the BJP. The party will stand by them for their principles and not for any individual per se. So as a part of extending our support we are providing all kinds of legal aid to Maridhas,” he said.

The DMK, on the other hand, is facing the wrath of right-wingers who are alleging the party is out to seek revenge and curb freedom of expression by arresting individuals like (social media commentator) Kishore K Swamy, BJP functionary Kalyana Raman and now Maridhas.

To this charge, R Rajiv Gandhi, state public relations joint secretary of the DMK, said there is a difference between criticism and slander. “The DMK is itself calling for repeal of seditious laws. How can it then subjugate freedom of expression? Those who are arrested so far are not first-timers in committing a crime. Cases were filed against them even in the AIADMK period. It means they are habitual offenders. What they do is not constructive criticism but outright slandering with an ulterior motive,” he pointed out.

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