Folk and playback singer Mathai Sunil and his crew were attacked by a group of people at Kodumon in Pathanamthitta after they performed at a temple there.
The incident happened in the early hours of Wednesday after the women artistes in the crew rejected the request for a selfie from a group of drunk men.
Mathai and his team had performed at Kandathikavil Sree Mahadeva Temple during the temple festival on the occasion of Sivarathri. The performance began at 1 am and lasted for four hours.
“We were about to return and packing our things. Ours is a 22-member team with five female singers. Then a group of men, all in their 20s, came near us. They were drunk. Their demand was to take a selfie with the female singers. They were a group of more than 10 people. The female singers rejected the demand to take a selfie with them. The female singers entered our vehicle and closed the doors. When the youth tried to forcibly enter the vehicle, the female singers closed the glass windows as well. The group began hitting on the vehicle. We then reasoned with them to stop it, following which they started beating us. Baiju, our group secretary was beaten badly. He was coming near the vehicle after collecting money from the organisers, when he got trapped between the assailants,” Sunil told TNM.
Mathai is a folk singer who has been actively doing stage programmes for the past 22 years. He is also a playback singer who has sung for 12 movies including Kamattipadam, Bachelor Party and Iyobinte Pusthakam. He said that it’s the first time in his singing career that he has faced such a situation. “There have been occasions when I reached the programme venue an hour late, but there was no problem from the organisers or the locals. On Wednesday also, the audience had turned out in numbers. Usually our programme ends in three hours, but this time it lasted for four hours as the audience was very supportive,” he said.
Police personnel were stationed in the vicinity as part of the usual vigil during festivals, where people are gathered in large numbers. They reached the spot and nabbed one of the attackers.
Police arrested two more persons later. The arrested have been identified as Sarath (24), Sreejith (18) and Amal (22). “Rejecting the demand to take selfie together was the provocation. The accused have been arrested under sections 119 (A) and 118 (A) of the Kerala Police Act, for harassing women and causing public nuisance,” Kodumon Sub Inspector Rajeev R said.
He added, “The women in the group are not willing to book the accused based on their statement. Therefore, we have taken a suo moto case. If they come forward to give a statement, the sections imposed on the accused will change.”