CHENNAI: Three YouTubers running a Tamil channel (Chennai Talks) that features young men and women talking about sex, relationships, sexuality and related topics were arrested on Monday. A statement by the city police termed such interviews of women "indecent acts" and warned of criminal action over such activities.
Police have booked the three on charges of obscenity in public places, insulting the modesty of women and criminal intimidation, among others.
A police official told The New Indian Express that the action was taken based on a specific video that went viral and followed a complaint filed by a woman who claimed that she was threatened by the host and cameraman on Monday when she questioned their activities at Elliots Beach.
The nearly three-minute video features a woman casually talking about her sexuality. The officer, however, did not explain what is illegal about the video.
The arrested persons are 31-year-old Dinesh, who is said to be running the channel since 2019, 23-year-old host Asen Badshah, and cameraman Ajay Babu (24). The police said they are taking steps to suspend the YouTube channel.
According to police, the trio allegedly insulted women they interviewed by asking uncomfortable questions in public places and later uploaded selected parts that had the potential to gain traction online. However, women who are seen in videos uploaded by the channel appear to be comfortably answering questions posed by the host.
The channel, which has around 200 videos and seven crore views, claims that it is into making "fun public opinion videos."
பெசன்ட் நகர் கடற்கரையில் Prank show என்ற பெயரில் பெண்களை ஆபாசமாக பேச வைத்து வீடியோ பதிவு செய்து வெளியிட்டு வந்த YouTube channel ன் உரிமையாளர்,தொகுப்பாளர் மற்றும் கேமராமேன் ஆகிய மூன்று நபர்களும் கைது செய்யப்பட்டு சிறையில் அடைக்கப்பட்டனர். pic.twitter.com/35UET3hCDU— DCP Adyar (@DCP_Adyar) January 12, 2021
"After the arrest, the three told us that these are the kind of videos that gain traction online. They said they are earning around Rs 1 lakh per month," the higher official said.
The police also alleged that the team used to ensure more public participation by asking their friends to pose as passersby.
A statement from the police said a patrol team picked up the YouTubers when they were intimidating members of the public using abusive words at the Elliots Beach on Monday. All three have been remanded in judicial custody by a magistrate court.
Police have booked them under IPC sections 509 (word, gesture, or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman), 506 (2) criminal intimidation, 354(b) assault or use of criminal force to woman with
intent to disrobe, and 294 (b) punishment for using obscene words in or near any public place.
On Tuesday evening, in an interview to an entertainment website, one of the women featured in the videos said that it was she who filed the police complaint as the Youtube channel violated the terms they agreed for.
She said that the video in which she talked about sexuality was scripted and she was paid Rs 1,500 for it.
Stating that a few portions were removed from the original video and hence missing the context of her speech, the woman said she was forced to file a complaint after the host (Asen) violated terms for consent.
"I told him to disable the comments section, but he refused to adhere to my request citing channel policy. The comments were so hurting and I went to a stage of depression," she said, adding that the host even shared the content on other channels without her consent.