Malayalam actress molestation case updates: Film fraternity unites, main accused still at large

FP Staff

Feb,20 2017 10:48 31 IST

Kerala police on Sunday intensified its efforts to arrest the culprits involved in the alleged rape of a noted South Indian actress amid mounting pressure from the film fraternity and political parties for stern action. Police said a hunt was on to nab culprits including the mastermind, a history-sheeter known as Pulser Suni, who had earlier worked as driver for some noted Malayalam film actors, including actor-turned-politician Mukesh.

Martin, driver of the actress' car, was taken into custody on Saturday for allegedly conniving with the gang which executed the crime. The actress was waylaid and harassed for two hours, allegedly by a gang of men, who forced their way into her car before fleeing at a busy area on Friday night. The incident drew widespread condemnation.

Read on Firstpost: Tamil actress Varalaxmi Sarathkumar speaks out about sexual harassment, exploitation in film industry

Suni allegedly engaged members of a notorious 'quotation gang' for attacking the actress while she was travelling from Thrissur to Kochi for doing a dubbing work of a Malayalam film in which she plays a key role.

When asked about reports on arrest of two persons from 'quotation gang', a top police officer told PTI that "some people" have been taken into custody.

According to Manorama News, police on Sunday said that the prime accused in the actress attack case had offered an amount of Rs 30 lakh to his accomplices but ended up not giving them the promised money after the crime.

“Their plan was to get the money from the actress by blackmailing her,” police sources told Manorama News. The investigating team also said that Pulsar Suni and two other culprits, who have gone into hiding, are still in Kerala.

'Similar incident happened in past'

Three incidents "similar" to the harassment of a popular Malayalam actress allegedly by a gang of men had taken place in the state recently, an actor claimed to have been informed by the Kerala police chief. But these earlier incidents went unreported, said actor-director Lal to whose house the noted South Indian actress fled after being harassed for two hours allegedly by a gang of five men, who forced their way into her car before fleeing in a busy area here on Friday night.

Addressing a galaxy of film stars assembled on Sunday night to attend a protest meet organised against the incident, Lal said he had telephoned Kerala DGP Loknath Behera to inform him about the incident soon after the actress reached his home crying and narrated her ordeal.

Malayalam film fraternity condemns and protests

Meanwhile, political parties and Malayalam film fraternity have condemned the incident and mounted pressure on the government to arrest the culprits at the earliest. Opposition Congress and BJP alleged that the LDF government has failed in ensuring safety of women.

In a Facebook post, the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) president Innocent, described the incident as a "heinous crime". "We have only one thing to say to those who committed this cruel act to our daughter... sister — defeat is yours. She will stand undefeated... always", he said. Innocent, who is also a Lok Sabha MP, said he had contacted Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and DGP Loknath Behera the moment he came to know about the incident. "Both of them have assured us that the guilty will be punished", he said, adding that the AMMA was closely watching the action by police.

Actor Dulquer Salman and Mohanlal, spoke out against the "heinous" crime on their respective Facebook pages.

Actor Prithviraj said, "All that can be said about the security of women in our matriarchal/matrilineal God's own country has already been said. And yes... as a man who has to share the responsibility of a society that bears this shame I hang my head. But please... the most we can collectively do at this moment is to respect the guts of this girl."

Actor Manju Warrier said she had met the actress, who was in a state of shock after the "horrifying" incident". But she was "bold and we were the ones who were shattered. Those responsible for the attack had perverted mindset and culture," she said in a post.

Director Major Ravi wants the government to take strong action against those responsible for the incident. "If a celebrity can go through this kind of torture from the rowdy gang, it can happen to any of our sisters. Shame on you all the system who can't take action on these culprits." Ravi also wanted the film fraternity to come together "on the road till the government wakes up."

Actor Unni Mukundan said he respected the actress's decision to speak out about her harrowing experience, adding "nothing will change except for the fact that everyone will know that you are one brave girl who chose to fight." Rima Kallingal lauded the actress for having the guts to fight, while actor Kunjacko Boban said in his post that "A 'MAN' becomes a real man when he learns to respect a woman. It is our duty to stand by her and support her rather than throw stones at her making some baseless allegations".

CPM says case is an isolated incident

However, CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan felt that the law and order situation in the state had not deteriorated. According to The Times of India, he said, "It is an isolated incident and because of this you cannot claim that the law and order situation in the state has worsened", adding that the law and order situation in Kerala was better than what it was under the UDF regime.

The Times of India reported that Kodiyeri tried to put up a brave face by comparing the incidents and past statistics and was pleased that the police had arrested the driver who was in constant communication with the gang who tried to abduct the actor. "This shows that the police acted swiftly and nabbed the culprits. The investigation is going in the right direction," he said, according to The Times of India.

Actor-turned-politician Mukesh said that the prime accused in this case was his former driver. "I never knew that he had a criminal background when he was my driver. He was my driver for quite some time before he moved out. Later, I learnt that the police had arrested him in some criminal case," The Times of India quoted Mukesh as saying.

Also producer Suresh Kumar too revealed to The Times of India that, an incident that happened five years ago when Pulsar Suni was assigned a job to drop his wife Menaka at a hotel. " Instead of dropping her at the hotel booked by the producer, he took her to another hotel after roaming around for several hours," said Suresh.

The film fraternity in Kerala on Sunday came out in support of a noted Malayalam actress, who was abducted and molested while she was travelling from Thrissur to Ernakulam

Seven persons were taken  into custody in connection with the harassment of the film actress, police said on Sunday, according to Deccan Chronicle.

Kerala DGP Loknath Behera has constituted a special investigation team to probe the case, following widespread condemnation of the incident. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said the gang members involved in the crime have been identified and they will be arrested very soon.

Also read: Malayalam actress abduction case — How the Kerala film industry may have a role to play

Deccan Chronicle reported that the actress in her complaint to police stated that on Friday night her car was hit from the rear by a tempo traveller van at Athani, between Aluva and Angamaly. The members in the van forcefully entered her car and took control of it before proceeding to Kochi.

The arrest of the accused on Saturday unravelled the conspiracy behind the entire episode. The New Indian Express reported that according to the police, Martin - a native of Koratty in Thrissur who had been working with the actor for the last couple of years — had allegedly plotted the kidnap drama. The actress after the alleged harassment, was later taken to the house of film director Lal in Thrikkakara by her driver and a woman judicial magistrate recorded her statement about the incident.

Police had also taken her for a medical examination at a hospital near Kochi. They suspect that blackmailing was the motive behind the crime.

With inputs from agencies