Dileep's arrest: Associates uneasy as police probe deepens; actor's financial dealings under scrutiny
There's an uneasiness among the associates of Malayalam film actor Dileep, as the police continue their questioning of him, having charged him with conspiracy in the abduction and assault of a popular actress from the fraternity in February 2017.
Dileep's friends and associates now fear that they could be brought in by the police for questioning too, as the probe in the case deepens. The actor was taken into custody on Wednesday, 12 July.
Dileep’s wife — actress Kavya Madhavan — and her mother Shyamala have been staying away from the public gaze ever since Dileep came under the police's scanner. While there was a raid on the Kochi offices of Laksyah, Kavya Madhavan's e-commerce venture, the police have not gone on record about whether or not the actress was involved in the conspiracy. However, sources in the force did say they are keeping an eye on the movements of Kavya and her mother, and the latest updates in the case indicate that Madhavan could be brought in for questioning.
Meanwhile, the Kerala police took Dileep to different spots where the actor and his accomplices allegedly conspired to collect evidence. At one of these places — Todupuzha in Idukki district — Congress workers staged a protest against Dileep.
Mukesh and Nadirshah in the dock?
The local press is also abuzz with the news that actor and CPI (M) MLA Mukesh, who is close to both Dileep and Nadirshah (the latter is among Dileep's closest friends) will be questioned. Media reports that quoted the police said Mukesh had called Dileep around 50 times on the day of the brutal assault on the survivor-actress, and the day after that as well. Sources noted that the police is trying to get details of the calls and check if they have any connection with the incident. Reports said Mukesh appeared before the district committee of CPI (M), Kollam, from where he is an MLA and explained his part. Mukesh will find it difficult to maintain a distance from the case as public pressure is building up against him. CPI (M) leaders from Kollam who disliked the party's decision of giving an Assembly seat to Mukesh are also likely to step up pressure against him in the light of present developments.
Social media has been flooded with photos that show Mukesh and his mother in the company of 'Pulsar' Suni, who is the main accused in the case. There are other photos also featuring Pulsar Suni with Mollywood actors Dharmajan and Anoop Menon, as well as some actresses. Though the photos are not evidence of Suni's closeness to top Malayalam film stars, they do indicate that he had access to them.
Responding to the press, Mukesh said he has not been served any notice by the police for questioning. He further claimed that he wasn't the one to introduce Pulsar Suni to Dileep. While agreeing that Suni had been his driver in 2013, Mukesh said he was removed from the job for speeding.
Nadirshah, who has close business relations with Dileep, had been reportedly been questioned on the day when Dileep was arrested. Though there had been reports that Nadirshah would turn approver in the case, these turned out to be incorrect. Police sources stated Dileep has not said anything to indict Nadirshah in the conspiracy case.
Actor and MP Innocent, also a friend of Dileep's had initially been at the forefront to protect him. However, he seems to have escaped police scrutiny at present.
Investigations of financial deals
Simultaneously with the conspiracy case, police have also started investigating the financial dealings of Dileep. It has been found that Dileep carried out 35 real estate deals in and around Kochi from 2005 till date. Investigations have also been started to find if the survivor-actress had any joint business deals with Dileep.
Reports also stated that Dileep’s bank accounts and business houses are currently under the scanner of the IT department and Enforcement Directorate and his bank accounts could be frozen any time. Once the police finishes its conspiracy charge-related investigation, the ED may start investigations into the alleged links between Dileep, the Malayalam film world and a Dubai-based money laundering racket.
Producers' Association acts
The Kerala Film Producers’ Association, which met at Kochi on Wednesday, has passed a resolution supporting the actress-survivor. Saji Nandyat, a Malayalam film producer, apologised at the meet for having spoken against the actress during media discussions.
The Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala, which was formed by Dileep, removed him as its president on Wednesday. Vice president of the organisation Antony Perumbavoor, has now been appointed the new president — replacing Dileep.
While there is consensus across different organisations in the industry that if Dileep is indeed guilty of conspiring to have the actress-survivor abducted and assaulted, he should be punished severely, there is also the apprehension that there may be moves to limit the investigation to Dileep and a few criminals — ignoring the larger ills that have gripped Malayalam film industry. A section of film personalities have said they will launch a movement to convince the authorities to act to decriminalise the Malayalam film industry.
Earlier on Wednesday, Angamaly magistrate court, Kochi, sent Dileep into police custody for two days. Dileep has to be produced before the court by 11 am on Friday, 14 July. Police have submitted 19 pieces of evidence before the court.
Ram Kumar, the counsel for the accused, has opposed the findings of the police and argued that all charges raised against Dileep were baseless and should be dismissed. He further termed the actor's arrest as illegal. On the bail application, the court said it could be moved once the police custody ends. The case was heard in the chamber of magistrate.