The furore surrounding the reinstatement of Malayalam actor Dileep, an accused in an abduction and rape case, into the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) has refused to die down. But it seems AMMA is unapologetic about it's decision. The General Secretary of AMMA, Edavela Babu, said that Dileep was actually “expelled hastily” from AMMA on July 11 last year without “much thought on the subject.”
Edavela Babu's reply came after the Kannada Film Industry (KFI) and the Film Industry for Rights & Equality (FIRE) wrote to AMMA on July 1, expressing their disappointment with the film body, and asked the association to revoke Dileep’s reinstatement till he is cleared of all charges. This letter was signed by 50 people from the Kannada Film Industry including actors Chetan, Sruthi Hariharan, Shraddha Srinath, actor-directors Rakshit Shetty and Prakash Rai and many more.
On July 3, Edavela Babu replied to actor Chetan, stating that “Legal opinion thereafter was that the Executive Committee cannot unilaterally take such an action; moreover as per the bye-laws even dismissal can be only after the member has been found guilty by a competent court in an offence. Presently Mr. Dileep is only an accused and not a convict.”
His reply further goes on to add that the matter of Dileep’s reinstatement was actually taken up at the last Annual General Meeting which was held on June 24 “and the full AGM (without even one member defending) decided to reinstate Mr.Dileep”.
Edavela Babu said that the FIRE letter would be placed at the next Executive Committee “and duly attended to with at most importance.”
In its response, FIRE said that any artists association should extend its support to the vulnerable, and that it would be better to prioritise the survivor’s well-being instead of that of the accused.
“We, as conscientious industry representatives, hold that any artists’ association by nature should extend support to the most vulnerable members of our industry rather than catering to those who may be in positions of power and influence.”
“Along these lines, we hope that AMMA will prioritize the well-being of the victim, a long-tine AMMA member, rather than reinstate an individual accused of heinous crimes,” the response reads.
In its letter to AMMA on July 1, KFI and FIRE had said: “Although we of KFI & FIRE espouse the Constitutional notion of ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ we deem AMMA’s reinstatement as even more inappropriate since the victim has been a member of AMMA and the accused has yet to be acquitted of all wrongdoing.”