It is a crime that could have remained unreported forever if not for the diligence shown by members of the staff at a popular cinema theatre in Kerala. A 10-year-old girl was sexually abused inside a cinema theatre in Malappuram district by 60-year-old Moideen Kutty, even as the girl's mother sat next to him with alleged full knowledge of the heinous crime being committed. CCTV cameras captured the crime, but the man might not have been brought to justice if not for swift action by staffers.
The staff members, who saw Moideen abusing the mother and the 10-year-old child, informed the Childline officials in the district about the incident. Speaking to TNM, Sanup, the staffer at the theatre who first spotted the incident on the CCTV visuals, said that the incident happened on April 18.
"This happened in Screen number 2, during the screening of the film Mohanlal. This was a 7pm show. Normally, we monitor the CCTV visuals all the time from our office. However, that day, there was a celebration by a group of fans for the success of another film. After that, I came to the Monitor Desk by 9 pm and saw what looked like a man abusing a child. I magnified the screen and to my horror, my suspicion turned out to be true. The film was in its last 10 minutes when I noticed it," Sanup says.
Taken aback, Sanup reported the incident to the theatre manager, who in turn informed the owner Satish.
"When I heard this initially, I was in a dilemma, I didn't know what to do. And the film was nearly ending. So, I told my staff to note down the man’s vehicle number. The next day, we informed Childline officials about it and handed over the footage. While we installed the cameras to spot drunk people who come to the theatre and to catch others who engage in anti-social activities, we did not anticipate that such a crime would happen," Satish said.
After getting the instruction from the owner, Sanup quickly stepped out, and spotted Moideen getting into his Benz car. "I noted down the car's number. The mother got into the back seat and the child got into the passenger seat and he drove away," Sanup said.
What further shocked Sanup was that the abuse had not just happened during the last 10 minutes of the film, but since the very beginning of the show.
"That day, because of the celebration, the CCTV monitor desk was unmanned for most part of the show. I could only get back to the desk during the last 10 minutes of the show. I got suspicious and rewound the footage, when I realised the man had been abusing the child throughout the show," Sanup said.
The staff also dug out Moideen's name and identity by tracing his car number and tracked him on Facebook. "When I saw his photo on Facebook, I was sure it was him. We then handed over everything to the ChildLine," Sanup said.
“We informed the police the very next day. We delayed it by a day to thoroughly check the visuals, considering the severity of the case. It’s a three-hour video, the theatre guys found it. We had checked the entire footage. He was abusing the mother and child at the same time, that too continuously from the beginning to the end. During the movie interval, he stops; he goes out and then comes back and resumes the sexual assault,” Childline member Anwar told TNM.
“After informing the police, we approached them every day about the follow up. We waited till Saturday as we thought that the police should be given time to trace him. Still they didn’t act,” Anwar adds.
However, the police did not act on the information given by the Childline, until Mathrubhumi News, reported on the visuals on Saturday. Employees at the cinema hall also say that the police did not contact them until the TV channel ran the story.