How a Telangana journalist, Thulasi Chandu, is waging a battle against merchants of hatred

Thulasi Chandu is an an Independent Journalist and YouTube from Hyderabad is continuously being trolled and harassed for her work.

BySumit Jha

Published Jun 28, 2023 | 12:36 AM Updated Jun 28, 2023 | 11:02 AM

Thulasi Chandu, independent journalist and YouTuber from Hyderabad, is being trolled and harassed for her work. (Facebook/Thulasi Chandu)

Name calling, morphed photos to defame her, abusive comments about her and her kin, death threats, systematic and organised vicious trolling — Thulasi Chandu has seen it all.

The Hyderabad-based independent journalist and YouTuber, who has been the target of relentless cyber-attacks and cyberbullying since 2020, insists that the threat is real, and close.

She is now increasingly facing the heat of an intolerant cyberworld, where logic and scientific temperament have taken a backseat, with social media anonymity giving ammo to anyone to issue threats to silence critical voices.

The tone and severity of the threats vary, as the 36-year-old journalist has experienced. Those supporting her, too, are not spared.

Chandu doesn’t know what the future has in store for her, but she suspects that the path she has chosen is filled with intolerant, hateful minds that lie in wait for her, perhaps armed with a knife or gun, by her own admission.

Chandu took to Facebook to say that today’s average youth — not the elite — lacked a scientific vision for a better future. They have stooped to the level of defending their religion and attacking others.

One word, “elite”, stood apart in her post, leading to severe trolling not just from merchants of hatred but also common citizens influenced by hateful vitriol.

“When so many young minds are obsessed with religion, one or two fanatics like me will face difficulties in questioning the political parties. I know my journey is dangerous. Someday, an innocent young man might attack me, driven by the hatred, fuelled by his beloved party, using a knife or a bullet,” she posted.

Morphed photographs

Chandu made the post after right-wing supporters targeted her for the critical content in her YouTube videos.

She continued: “…if millions of young people are being intoxicated by religion, I cannot help but express what needs to be said.”

“They hate me because I say that religious hatred is the most dangerous thing for the youth of any country. No group stands up for me. I don’t even have a media identity card,” she said.

“I am a powerless individual who can do nothing other than explain my thoughts. One day, I may fall victim. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen. At least let me record my anguish and loneliness before that occurs,” she noted.

Being at the receiving end of fanatics is not new for Chandu. In April 2022, she took to Twitter to share the trauma of seeing her morphed images being circulated on social media. She then urged the state government to step in.

“Since I’m a woman, my photos were morphed. When male journalists like Shankar pose questions, they are threatened. They are told that their family would be killed in an accident,” she tweeted.

Her tweet caught the attention of Telangana’s IT and Industries Minister KT Rama Rao. “It’s a disgrace that social media has turned into a haven for anti-social behavior and that too against respected journalists,” he noted while urging the home minister and the state police chief to initiate stern action against the miscreants.

Chandu lodged a complaint with the cyber crime police. Despite the complaint and the minister’s directive, nothing happened. Her ordeal continued.

Also read: Intolerant of criticism, ‘cyber comrades’ target journalists in Kerala

The ordeal

What did Chandu convey through her videos on her YouTube channel, Thulasi Chandu?

She explained it to South First.

“Since the launch of my channels, I have been making videos against hatred, and for religious harmony. Whenever there is an incident or need, I make videos on why we should follow the Constitution, why we should stay away from hatred, why we need religious harmony, which parties are promoting hatred, and how they behave,” she said.

Chandu had previously worked with various Telugu television and print media outlets, including ETV, ABN Andhra Jyothi and Sakshi TV, as a reporter and sub-editor since 2007.

She decided to become independent in September 2020 as the Telugu media landscape became increasingly limited, with fewer opportunities for critical voices. It led her to establish her own platform, aiming to fill the void she had perceived in the Telugu media.

Her YouTube channel has now more than 1.8 lakh subscribers and around 337 videos.

Chandu recalled that when she made a video, “Matham Ostondi Mitrama Meluko” (Religion is here friend, wake up), during the initial days, it garnered an overwhelming response. Hate messages and trolls soon followed.

“It was the third month of starting my video channel. In December 2020, I started to get hate messages. It started in 2020 and is still continuing,” she said.

“They’ve branded me anti-Hindu. Even if I post videos criticising a policy, or a video that is investigative in nature, or explain an incident, this anti-Hindu tag follows me,” Chandu said.

Also read: MediaOne editor on free media, democracy, solidarity and judiciary

Targeted harassment

Chandu mentioned that a few YouTube channels and Facebook pages have started targeting her recently. “Whenever I post a video, they attach meanings that are not true,” she said.

The comments are now instigating others to harm her. “I am receiving comments like — she is a communist, she is anti-Hindu, and that is why she is saying all these. We have to stop her, we must stop her channel, we must mass report. We must not let her continue. She is presenting her content in a beautiful way to attract people to her ideas.”

“In their videos, they call me names — that I’m a mayaladi (enchantress),” she said.

Comments against Chandu mentioned her to be a danger to society, anti-Hindu, communist, and so on.

thulasi chandu post comment

A comment on one of her posts.

Chandu said that people from all religious groups have been targeting her. “A few pastors made videos, saying I’m anti-Christian. If I question the central government or prime minister, I’m anti-Hindu,” she said.

The independent journalist expressed concern over the harassment she has been facing. The situation has escalated. They are not isolated incidents. She said that there are dedicated channels targeting her, with hundreds of messages threatening her.

“They are running channels targeting me. Hundreds of messages are exhorting to cause harm to my very existence. People are watching those videos that are propagating lies. They then come to my inbox and threaten and abuse me,” she said.

She tried to reason with the tormentors but to no effect. She clarified that her response was not over a single instance of a hate message or a phone call. It was the response to a well-organised and sustained attack.

“These instances are affecting my work. It is getting tough to continue my career. I’ve tried several times to reason with them and engage with them in the comments section. Nothing helped. So I made a lengthy Facebook post,” she said.

Chandu emphasised that her’s was not an impulsive reaction, but a response to an ongoing malignant campaign against her. She took the step of identifying the individuals portraying her as anti-Hindu and complained about them, including three YouTube channels and a Facebook page.

She urged authorities to take action against these channels, as previous complaints yielded no results.

The woman hoped that by addressing the issue and seeking legal action against those responsible, she could have a safe working environment. It would also benefit other journalists facing similar threats.

“Only the government can help me,” she said.

On Tuesday, 27 June Telangana State Union of Working Journalists (TUWJ), Hyderabad Union of Journalists (HUJ), the Press Club, Hyderabad (PCH), Network of Women in Media India (NWMI) and Telangana State Small and Medium Papers and Magazine Association along with civil liberties group held a roundtable to discuss the harassment Chandu has been facing.

“I am grateful for the moral support from civil liberties groups and individuals who, despite being predominantly Hindus, shared my concerns for the country’s future and desired systemic change,” she said.

Also read: Why does the ruling CPI(M) regularly target news channel Asianet in Kerala?


Following Chandu’s complaint, the Rajendranagar police under Cyberabad Commissionerate filed a case against YouTube channels and the Facebook page for defamation and issuing threats.

The case was registered under Section 67 of the IT Act and Section 506 of the IPC. The case has been filed against Ahambramhasmi of Ahambramhasmiol YouTube channel, RJkiran of rjkiran3798 YouTube channel, Mathonmadampai Ramabanam of Mathonmadampairamabana YouTube channel, and the Facebook page, Pastor Paramjyothi Raju.

The FIR accessed by South First said that the YouTube channels and Facebook page targeted Chandu with malicious intent.

“These YouTube channels and Facebook page have created several videos against the complainant, alleging that she is against Hinduism,” the FIR read.

“It appears that they are attempting to defame or discredit the complainant by portraying her in a negative light and misrepresenting her views on Hinduism. Further, all the accused were threatening the complainant with dire consequences,” it added.