Senior journalist M Gunasekaran resigned from his editorial role in News18 Tamil Nadu on Friday, The News Minute reported.

In a letter to his colleagues, Gunasekaran refuted YouTuber Maridhas’ allegations and said that the channel, under his leadership, did not favour any particular political party. He added that leaders of political parties knew this.

“When we were gathering news for the state Assembly Election, local body elections or bye-elections, we didn’t report favourably for any party,” Gunasekaran said. “The world knows that the public and political leaders have branded us as a neutral channel.”

Gunasekaran said that the channel had interviewed former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala when she led the All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, as well as Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam President MK Stalin and current Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami.

“It is not easy for any news organisation to gain people’s trust,” Gunasekaran wrote. “Through our dedication, hard work and for representing their emotions without fear, we were put on a pedestal by people. We cannot forget that we were also subjected to censorship in some instances.”

Gunasekaran said News18 had exposed the police vandalism during protests in favour of Jallikattu. It had also covered multiple events in the state that affected the people, such as natural disasters, National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test, Goods and Services Tax and elections.

Gunasekaran said he had had the opportunity to bring young journalists into the channel and to train them, adding that change is inevitable. “It is only best to move past such changes, which occur in the course of time,” he said. “Yes, I am resigning as the Tamil Nadu News Editor of News 18 Tamil Nadu. Thank you all for your love and cooperation.”

The controversy

Earlier this month, News18 Tamil Nadu filed a complaint with the Chennai Police against Maridhas, accusing him of forging an email from a senior editor and for trying to incite communal disturbance.

The channel said Maridhas sent an email to the media house on July 5, accusing its journalists of running an “anti-Hindu” campaign for the last four years. Maridhas also claimed that journalists and editors in News18 Tamil were direct or indirect supporters of Dravidar Kazhagam and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

On July 10, the YouTuber posted a screenshot of an email from the channel’s editor Vinay Sarawagi, claiming that the management of the channel had “accepted all the allegations” against the news team in Tamil Nadu. However, the same day, Sarawagi denied that he had sent any email. The news channel said Maridhas has made a false claim by posting a fabricated email. The network added that the acts and videos of Maridhas on social media promoted hatred between religious groups.

News18 and Gunasekaran subsequently filed a Rs 1.5 crore defamation suit against Maridhas. On July 29, the Madras High Court instructed Maridhas to stop publishing any more videos defaming TV18 Broadcast Limited, and to remove all the clips he had posted in the past, Live Law reported.