Investigative Journalist Sandhya Ravishankar Faces Intimidation, Threats Again

On Thursday, she found that the fuel pipe of her bike was cut and filed a sixth complaint with the Chennai police.

New Delhi: Chennai-based journalist Sandhya Ravishankar has stated that attempts were being made to harass and intimidate her by unknown persons. Ravishankar has faced multiple instances of harassment, stalking and violation of privacy after her four-part exposé on the sand mafia was published by The Wire early last year.

On Friday morning, Ravishankar took to Twitter to say that on the previous day, she had found that the petrol tube of her bike was cut. While she initially suspected that it was a simple case of petrol theft, she found that her fuel tank will still full. Suspicious, she checked the CCTV camera that was installed at her house, overlooking the parked vehicles. She tweeted the CCTV footage, in which two persons can be seen stopping at her house at 11:43 pm on Wednesday. While the footage is not clear, the men – wearing helmets – can be seen fiddling with Ravishankar’s bike. They leave after a few minutes and arrive again at 11:51 pm and can be seen approaching her bike once more.

Ravishankar had already filed a case with the commissioner of police when in late August, an online portal called Savukku had released the CCTV footage of her meeting with former DGP Ramanujam in March 2017 at a cafe on Chamiers road in Chennai.

In her complaint to the commissioner, Ravishankar said this was a violation of her right to privacy. She revealed that she had questioned the owners of the cafe how the footage was leaked, to which they told her that footage is only downloaded at the request of the police.

“It is therefore evident that Savukku has received the CCTV footage from the police… I have strong reason to believe that a senior police officer is colluding with the mining mafia in order to follow me, film and photograph me,” she said in her complaint. She said this police officer was targeting and maligning her at the “behest of the powerful beach sand miners in the state”.

On Thursday, she filed another complaint with the local police station. The local inspector and SI took cognisance of the complaint and paid a visit later in the evening. The police have promised to increase patrolling near her house. This is the sixth complaint that Ravishankar has filed with the Chennai police since the beginning of last year, soon after her stories were published by The Wire. While the complaints have been filed, the police have not yet registered a case or an FIR, failing which no investigation can be undertaken.

The Foundation for Media Professionals has released a statement supporting Ravishankar, while several journalists have also expressed solidarity through social media.

The Foundation for Media Professionals calls upon the Tamil Nadu Government to take a serious view of the harassment of this investigative journalist and order a probe into the leakage of the CCTV footage and take action against all those responsible for this offence.