Dileep’s arrest: Is TRP-obsessed press overlooking the case's real questions?

Dinesh Unnikrishnan

Jul,12 2017 15:18 26 IST

The arrest and subsequent court trial of Kerala actor, Dileep for allegedly plotting the kidnap and sexual assault of his female colleague in Mollywood, has turned into 24-hour non-stop melee on local television channels.

High decibel discussions in newsrooms often overlook facts and turn into mere adrenaline-driven entertainment shows, where TV anchors compete with panelists to take sides, rather than doing their job of adopting an impartial stance and delivering credible reportage. The media’s obsession with sensitive cases involving celebrities is well known. In Dileep’s case, the whole pandemonium seems like certain TV anchors are taking 'vengeance' on the actor and judging him before the courts do — whereas they are expected to be impartial observers. However, they cannot be blamed: 'Scoops’ such as the one involving Dileep are TRP-driven, money-minting opportunities that are difficult to let go of.

Dileep. Image via Facebook

Dileep. Image via Facebook

Let's pause for a moment and ask this: had this not been a case involving a superstar, his actress wife and another well-known actress as the survivor of the assault, would it have got the round-the-clock coverage that it did? What if the abduction-rape case had involved a little-known personality? How well would the same set of TV channels have covered similar cases? This isn't the first case of sexual assault in recent months in Kerala. There have been a few other cases too, where the survivors have faced far worse. But, they weren't 'lucky' enough to get media attention. One such case was the rape of a 19-year-old girl in her home by a local goon, in Changanassery, Kerala. The case passed out of the press' gaze within just a few days. Was the victim here less important?

Now let’s look at another aspect: The memories of the Jisha rape and murder case are still fresh, involving a law student who was brutally raped and murdered on the evening of 28 April in a one-room house in Perumbavoor, Kerala, where she lived with her mother. The local press had praised the cops and government for the quick investigation and nabbing of the accused.

However, there are some real questions the local press has overlooked.

First, why — even after the Jisha episode and similar other cases — has the Kerala government and police failed to get a grip on the law and order situation in the state?

In this particular case involving Dileep, reports suggests that a group of goons (what they call a 'quotation team' or goons acting on contract) operating in the film industry were involved in the abduction and sexual assault of the actress. How could such groups thrive all these years under the nose of the Kerala government and police? What are the steps the Pinarayi Vijayan government has taken after the incident to deploy cops to investigate the operations of similar ‘quotation teams’ in the state? Clearly, the government hasn’t learned enough from the past.

Second, the incident involving the actress happened five months ago, when she was travelling for work. Cops even managed to nab the gang leader of the team, Sunilkumar, soon after the incident. The alleged perpetrators of the crime, involving Dileep, were very much in public thereafter. Why then, did it take so long for the police to nab the mastermind?

Also, there are reports that suggest Dileep is involved in black money rackets operating out of Dubai, and other illegal financial deals. Various agencies too have begun to probe the financial dealings of the actor. How did such a person escape the law’s scrutiny for so long? Did he enjoy protection from political circles and the film industry to carry out these alleged illegal financial dealings?

There is nothing wrong in the press being sympathetic towards the actress who was assaulted. The danger is in the press merely playing to the gallery, and forgetting to ask the important questions.