P Revathi, Hyderabad-based television journalist and former CEO of MOJO TV, a Telugu news channel, was released from Hyderabad central prison after receiving bail on Friday. She was arrested last Friday in connection with a SC/ST case in which she was accused of being party to the humiliation of an activist by calling him by his caste name. This was in January 2019 during a television panel discussion on MOJO TV on the entry of women into Sabarimala temple.
Revathi was Accused number 2 in the case which was filed in January 2019 while Raghu, her co-anchor was the first accused. Raghu was not arrested but Revathi was, with the police accusing her of not responding to summons issued in the case.
T S Sudhir of Filter Kaapi spoke to Revathi soon after she was released from Chanchalguda prison.
Sudhir : Your husband Chaitanya Dantuluri felt that there was a deliberate attempt to prolong your stay inside jail, with bail being denied for seven days. Did you feel so too?
Revathi : I was inside so there was no contact with the outside world. But I came to know that they did not submit the case diary for three days. It seemed like a case of delaying it deliberately. The judge in fact, had to warn them against doing so. And finally when the bail petition was being heard, they were trying to conduct a case argument instead of discussing the bail petition.
Sudhir : Though the arrest pertained to the SC/ST Act, did you get the impression that you paid more for your association with MOJO TV and Ravi Prakash, who had been earlier removed as the CEO of TV9. (Ravi Prakash held indirect stake in MOJO TV)
Revathi : I have all the reasons to believe that. On Friday, when I was in the ACP’s cabin, he was not discussing the case in which I was an accused. He was asking me about how I met Ravi Prakash, where is he now, whether I am in touch with him.
The ACP opened my Twitter account and specifically pointed to some tweets I had put out about Rameshwar Rao of My Home group (whose subsidiary company now owns TV9 and MOJO TV) and the Income Tax raids on his premises (earlier this month). The ACP asked me how could I even write stuff like that. It was so obvious why I had been arrested. It was linked to MOJO TV takeover and they wanted to send across a message.
Sudhir : The police however charges you with not responding to summons in the SC/ST case.
Revathi : The police charged me with absconding whereas the trusth was that I was there in MOJO TV studio, anchoring news bulletins. I was one street away from the police station. I received the first summons on 20 May. That time I was in Vijayawada. I kept following it with the police, I told the ACP I will come and meet him. But he then said his team will follow it up with me.
Sudhir : You have been critical of the Telugu news media scene.
Revathi : It is dead. Today the people who I hired for MOJO TV are putting out false stories against me. They cannot even put out the right news.
Sudhir : A lot many of us have gone inside prison as journalists to report on the life inside. Seems awkward to ask but how was the experience inside.
Revathi : I got the opportunity to meet many people and hear their stories. Like gangster Nayeem’s wife, Nowhera Shaik (arrested for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme), Lavanya, the tehsildar (who was recently arrested for owning assets disproportionate to known sources of income). I wish I had a camera to record those interviews.