'Ensure justice for survivor in actor assault case': WCC meets Kerala women panel head

The WCC members also urged P Satheedevi, the chairperson of Kerala Women’s Commission, to make the Hema Commission report public.
Kerala Women in Cinema Collective Members meeting Women's Panel Head
Kerala Women in Cinema Collective Members meeting Women's Panel Head
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In the latest development in the Kerala actor assault case, members of Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) met the Kerala Women's Commission chairperson P Satheedevi in Kozhikode on Sunday, January 16. They urged the commission to ensure justice for the survivor actor and to intervene to make public the Hema Commission report on the problems faced by women in the Malayalam film industry.

The meeting took place on Sunday between 10 am and 11 am. WCC members Anjali Menon, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Padma Priya, Deedi Damodaran, Padmini and Sayanora met the Commission chairperson at the government guest house in Kozhikode.

Earlier this month, the Kerala government formed a three-member panel to implement the recommendations in the Hema Commission report. However, the action has been seen as much delayed by the government since the report was submitted more than two years ago in December 2019, and it’s not been made public yet, despite repeated suggestions by members of the WCC.

Further, the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, in reply to a query under the Right to Information Act by Raju Vazhakkala, a resident of Kakkanad in Kochi, revealed that the expense of the Commission has been Rs 1.06.55000. The Hema Commission was constituted in July 2017, in the aftermath of the actor assault, by the Department of Cultural Affairs.

It was on February 17, 2017, that the survivor actor was abducted and sexually assaulted in a car in Kochi. Prominent actor of the Malayalam film industry Dileep is alleged to be the mastermind of the crime and is the eighth accused in the case. On February 23, Pulsar Suni, a history-sheeter, and another accused Vijeesh were arrested at a court in Ernakulam where they arrived to surrender. The Special Investigation Team, formed to probe the case, arrested Dileep on July 10, 2017, and housed him at the sub-jail in Aluva. He was granted bail on October 3, 2017.

The WCC was formed, following the assault, in November 2017 to address the gender disparity and treatment of women in the film industry. The trial in the case began after two years, in November 2019. 

The case took a new turn in December 2021 after Balachandrakumar, director and a former friend of Dileep, came out with several allegations against the latter. Balachandrakumar claimed that Dileep was in possession of the visuals of the assault well before he watched them at the Magistrate's court. He also said that he had seen Pulsar Suni at Dileep's residence Padmasarovaram in Aluva.

He released several audio clips alleged to be conversations between Dileep and his family members discussing the visuals of the assault on the actor, when Dileep was out on bail.

Dileep wrote to the State Police Chief in January this year, asking to stop further probe in the case. Meanwhile, the Kerala government asked the Supreme Court in January 2022 for a six-month extension to finish the trial in light of the new developments and formed a new investigation team under senior officer Sreejith. On January 9, police filed a new FIR (First Information Report) against Dileep over audio clips submitted by Balachandrakumar in which he and others allegedly conspired to murder investigating officials of the assault case. Dileep sought anticipatory bail on January 10. The same day the survivor actor posted on Instagram about her struggle in the last five years, thanking everyone who supported her. This was the first time she revealed her identity.

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