Chennai-based independent journalist Sandhya Ravishankar alleged intimidation by unidentified persons. She also posted on Twitter visuals captured on her CCTV camera showing two men approaching her residence, late on Wednesday, September 26. The next day, she found the petrol tube of her two wheeler had been cut.
This is not the first instance of harassment she has has faced, but there have been multiple cases of stalking, intimidation and privacy violation after her four-part expose on the sand mafia last year.
She alleged that she has been constantly harassed by supporters of S. Vaikundarajan, owner of the largest sand mining conglomerate in the country, who is mentioned extensively in her articles. The series, published in late January this year, documented the illegal sand mining, political collusion, and methods used to suppress competition in the south and is the outcome of four years of investigative journalism.
Ever since the series came out, Sandhya says she has been harassed by online trolls and on the phone, receiving multiple threats of violence. In a letter to the Press Council of India, she has said, “I have been harassed online with trolls on social media using foul language against me, calling me a “corrupt” journalist, a “fake” journalist etc.
She mobile number was published on Twitter and Facebook by the anonymous trolls supporting Mr S. Vaikundarajan. Her mobile number was published with a note in Tamil saying that I was “anti-Jallikattu” and asking people “not to call her”.
Online blogs have also come up in both Tamil and English that target Ravishankar, using terms like the ‘Phoolan Devi of journalism’. Ravishankar filed a complaint with the Chennai city police earlier this week, in addition to one with the cyber wing when her phone number was released on the internet last month.
After the latest instance, on Friday morning, she took to Twitter to say that on the previous day, she had found that the petrol tube of her two wheeler 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.