by Divyakshee K.
On her trip to Kochi for work in February 2017, a leading Malyalam actress was allegedly kidnapped and sexually abused. The eighth accused in the case, Malayalam cinema actor Dileep, was arrested in July 2017 and freed two months later on bail. He was charged with conspiracy to kidnap and molest the actress inside her car.
The crime was reportedly filmed by the accused. In an interview with a local Malayalam TV programme last week, film director Balachandrakumar said that Dileep had seen the footage of the sexual assault. Dileep had a strong acquaintance with the first accused, Sunil Kumar aka Pulsar Suni, according to the director.
The police requested a further investigation into the film director’s harsh claims against actor Dileep on Wednesday. Last month, the filmmaker filed a complaint with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, alleging that he had seen the case’s main suspect, Pulsar Sunni, visiting star Dileep’s home. He also accused Dileep of watching the assault footage with a group of friends at his home before it was brought as evidence in court, and he has supplied audio recordings from the actor’s home, which include claimed attempts to sway crucial witnesses.
On Tuesday, a trial court in Kochi ordered the police to investigate a recent revelation by Balachandrakumar that actor Dileep, one of the defendants, had acquired the images of the attack before they were even shown in court.
Till date, two special public prosecutors have resigned citing favouritism from the judge hearing the case. The new Special Public Prosecutor appointed in the 2017 kidnapping and sexual assault of a Kerala actress has resigned. This is the second time, in almost a year, that a special public prosecutor has resigned from the high-profile case. The first had resigned only days after the Kerala High Court had rejected the survivor’s request to have the trial court judge changed.
The lawsuit is entering a critical point of hearing, with the Kerala High Court’s February 16 deadline for the case’s conclusion – following a second six-month postponement – approaching.
The ‘Women in Cinema Collective,’ a group that advocates for women in the Malayalam film business, has also requested that the charges be investigated.
“Is the law-and-order machinery of our state looking into this key testimony from Mr Balachandra Kumar which has come out in the media recently? Do the actions alleged in the interview amount to illegal actions like bribery and/or intimidation of crucial witnesses?” the organisation had said in its statement.
The statement also sought police protection to the director based on his request and signed off with the hashtag “#Avalkoppam” – “with her” in Malayalam.
In the meantime, on Tuesday, accused Dileep filed a complaint against the prosecution. He said that director Balachandrakumar was using his interview to attempt to derail the investigation. He also claimed that the interview was orchestrated by Baiju Poulose, the investigating officer.
The actor stated that while he was not opposed to additional investigation, Baiju Poulose should not be in charge of it. Dileep has filed a complaint with DGP Anil Kanth and the Director of Vigilance.
However, under criminal law, if further evidence emerges, the trial can be postponed and more investigation done. In such cases, the investigating officer has the ability to seek additional inquiry.