Ever since casting director Tess Joseph came out with her #MeToo allegation of inappropriate workplace behaviour against Kerala actor and CPI(M) MLA Mukesh, multiple groups in Kerala have taken out protests demanding his resignation and arrest. Opposition parties in Kerala staged protests near and outside Mukesh’s office at Anandavalleswaram in Kollam.
On Tuesday, Youth Congress members blocked the National Highway near Anandavalleswaram and burnt an effigy of Mukesh. Police arrested 10 protesting members of the Youth Congress for obstructing public pathways.
Bearing signs that read “Peedana ‘Veeran’ Mukesh MLA Arrest Cheyuka” (Arrest the Harassment ‘Braveheart’ MLA Mukesh), members of the BJP Mahila Morcha marched to Mukesh’s office, while BJP Yuva Morcha members also clashed with police during their protest against the actor. However, Kollam police told TNM that no Yuva Morcha members were arrested.
Under the aegis of the District Congress Committee, Kollam, the Congress party also took out a march to Mukesh’s house in Kollam on Wednesday morning, demanding his resignation from the party post and police action against him. Anticipating these protests, security has been increased around his home and office. Police say no arrests have been made in these protests on Wednesday.
Mukesh addressed reporters at around 12 PM on Wednesday to address the allegations against him. He began his statement by saying that he is a strong supporter of the #MeToo movement. He said that he supported an environment where women could enter the arts without any gender discrimination.
He went on to say that he had no recollection of the events encapsulated in Tess Joseph’s #MeToo account and that he would never have bothered any person on the phone. He said that he did remember staying at the Le Meridien hotel while shooting for Koteeswaran show 19 years ago, but was not aware that crew members were also staying there and that he never called or bothered anyone as described in Tess’ account.
He said that it was likely there was some confusion, that it perhaps could have been another Mukesh Kumar.
He also attempted to discredit Tess’ account, saying that a few years later, Derek O’Brien had invited him to meet during a shoot in Kerala. Mukesh said that he was the only person Derek knew in Kerala and was a friend and that Mukesh hastened to meet him. “If Derek knew I was a harasser, he would not have invited me; so there must have been some confusion,” he said.
Mukesh then pointed out that Tess herself had mentioned that she did not come out with her account in order to politicise the issue or inspire groups to march to Mukesh’s house or office.