After an investigation spanning four months, the Kerala Police has arrested actor Dileep, on a conspiracy charge in connection with the abduction and assault of a popular Malayalam film actress. The court has remanded him to judicial custody for 14 days.
However, that has not ended the controversy surrounding the police investigation, which initially failed to see any conspiracy in the case. Neither has it subdued public anger against a section of Left politicians and film actors who supported Dileep.
Dileep was booed by the public when he was taken to jail and his business firms have come under the scanner. Meanwhile, public outrage continues against LDF MP Innocent and MLAs Mukesh and B Ganesh Kumar — who are all also actors.
Impact on the film industry and Kerala politics
A day after he was arrested, life seems to have come to a strange place for Dileep, who began his career as a mimicry artiste and rose to become one of the superstars of the Malayalam film industry (colloquially known as Mollywood).
Mollywood, where Dileep ruled the roost till just a day earlier, has come out strongly against him. A meeting of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA), held on 11 July (Tuesday), ousted him from the post of treasurer of the organisation and also revoked his membership. The producers' association, FEFKA and cine exhibitors' association (which Dileep) organised recently, have also removed him from their members' rolls.
MLA and actor Mukesh, who has been supporting Dileep, has now said that he never realised the latter was a criminal. It is being estimated that Mollywood will suffer a loss of around Rs 100 core following the imprisonment of the actor, as many films in which he plays the lead role, have to be cancelled (100 crore is still a very big amount in the tiny world of Malayalam films).
In the absence of Dileep, who allegedly controlled the ‘Kochi lobby’ of Mollywood, there is also likely to be a power struggle, which will give a chance to new aspirants to rewrite existing equations in the industry. However, it will not end there. The outcome of the case is going to be widely discussed and will definitely have an impact in state politics, as those who protected Dileep — including AMMA president and MP Innocent, and AMMA leader and MLA Mukesh — belong to the ruling CPM. Actor and MLA MB Ganesh Kumar had also won the elections with the support of CPM.
Many leaders in the CPM itself have already come out against those MLAs. In the CPM party elections, which will be held in the coming days, this will be discussed and the leaders who supported the accused will bear the brunt. Meanwhile, the leader of the Opposition, Ramesh Chennithala, has demanded an apology from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the light of Dileep's arrest as he had previously asserted that there is no conspiracy angle to the actress' assault case. BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan also criticised the chief minister, saying it was Vijayan's opinion that there was no conspiracy to investigate, which delayed Dileep's arrest. He attributed the actor's arrest to the relentless efforts made by the press and sections of film personalities to ensure justice to the actress-survivor.
The public response
The scene at Aluva Police Club when Dileep was brought there (reportedly after a second round of marathon questioning), revealed the impact of his arrest on three areas: his career, the Malayalam film industry and Kerala politics. Another important aspect is there was no surprise or shock in the crowd at the arrest. It was as if people knew who was behind the conspiracy.
A sizeable crowd, mainly youth, had gathered there. Everybody booed Dileep. While youth wing workers of CPM raised slogans supporting Kerala Police and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, supporters of the Congress and BJP shouted slogans against CPM MP Innocent for 'shielding' Dileep.
Re-investigation and new charges
The re-investigation and Dileep's arrest have brought some respite to the Kerala Police and Pinarayi Vijayan, who have been under fire for the initial investigative report which dismissed the possibility of conspiracy and role of Dileep in it. However, the fact that the re-investigation was conducted on the basis of the revelations of the first accused Sunil Kumar while in jail — and not because of any new finding by the police — reduces the police's claim over credit for Dileep's eventual arrest.
Moreover, while the press had reported that differences in business deals, especially those in real estate, were the root cause of assault, the additional charge sheet made after the re-investigation reportedly focuses on the personal enmity of Dileep towards the actress-survivor for 'causing distress in his personal life', leading to his divorce, as the provocation. Industry insiders point out that ignoring the financial deals which could be a major reason for the enmity is aimed at saving many big shots.
Limiting the investigation to Dileep, a few criminals and personal enmity means the larger issues of black money in cinema, money laundering, the criminal-film star-politician nexus — will not be investigated. It also implies that incidents such as the assault on the actress may be repeated in the future — if criminals are used to settle the differences of opinion arising over investment/sharing of black money.
Demand for CBI inquiry
A section of the Malayalam press has reported that the actress’ family was planning to approach the Kerala High Court, seeking a CBI inquiry into the assault. The authorities wanted to pre-empt that move, which would have revealed the presence of black money, and so arrested Dileep as a compromise.
Film producer Gopan Chennithala, who is also the state convener of the cultural cell of BJP Kerala, said the flow of black money into film production and real estate in Kochi during the last 10 years has given rise to many unhealthy trends among young actors and newcomers in the industry. Referring to reports regarding the supply and use of drugs in the Malayalam industry involving certain flats in Kochi and subsequent police raids there, he said it reflects the loss of values in the industry. A central agency needs to investigate the matter, he said. He also said that a group of film personalities from across South India have begun an effort to free the film industry from the clutches of criminal elements.
Despite the anger against Dileep expressed by the public, politicians and celebrities, two people have expressed different views. Former DGP TP Senkumar recently noted that the police have not collected enough evidence to arrest Dileep. He also said it could not be understood how the contract given to Pulsar Suni in 2013 resulted in an attack in 2017.
Meanwhile, independent MLA PC George also struck a different note, saying he has doubts about the present investigation against Dileep. Dileep made a mistake by attacking the press and activists who spoke for the victim, he said. Will there be any further twists in the case? Was there too much political interference in the investigation? Was Dileep trapped in the case or is he the real culprit? As the case is now before the court, the right answers should begin to emerge soon.
Published Date: Jul 12, 2017 07:24 am | Updated Date: Jul 12, 2017 07:24 am