Timeline: The sexual assault case of an actor that continues to rock Kerala

On January 10, the survivor in the Kerala actor sexual assault case revealed her identity through an Instagram post, prompting several from the Malayalam film industry to express their solidarity with her.
Actor Dileep in white shirt
Actor Dileep in white shirt
Written by:

In an unprecedented show of solidarity with the survivor in the Kerala actor kidnap and sexual assault case, several stars, directors and other technicians and crew from the Malayalam film industry shared her social media post on her struggle. While the industry came together in support in the initial days after the case was reported in February 2017, several prominent faces chose to stay away after actor Dileep, a prominent name in the industry,  was accused of being the mastermind of the conspiracy that led to the assault. Worse, many chose to vocally support Dileep, drowning out the survivor’s voice and isolating her friends from the industry who chose to stand by her.

On Monday, January 10, the survivor put up a post thanking those who have stood by her. “I know I am not alone,” she wrote in a short but powerful post, asserting her intention to fight for justice.

"For 5 years now, my name and my identity have been suppressed under the weight of the assault inflicted on me. Though I am not the one who has committed the crime, there have been many attempts to humiliate, silence and isolate me. But at such times I have had some who stepped forward to keep my voice alive. Now when I hear so many voices speak up for me I know that I am not alone in this fight for justice. To see justice prevail, to get wrongdoers punished and to ensure no one else goes through such an ordeal again, I shall continue this journey. For all those who are standing with me – a heartfelt thank you for your love,” she wrote.

It’s been five years since the crime took place and there have been many twists and turns in the case. Here’s a timeline of the events pertaining to the case:

February 17, 2017: The popular woman actor is abducted and sexually assaulted by a group of men in a moving car near Kochi. The men also record the assault. She is dropped off at actor-director Lal’s house after two hours. She knew the assaulter, a man named Pulsar Suni, who worked as a driver for several actors in the industry. 

February 17, 2017: On the same day, she files a complaint and the police register an FIR.

February 19, 2017: Within two days, the police nab three of the seven accused in the case. However, prime accused Sunil Kumar, alias Pulsar Suni, a history sheeter, is on the run.

February 23, 2017: Pulsar Suni and another accused, Vijeesh, are arrested at the court of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate of Ernakulam where they arrived to surrender. A day before this, a lawyer hands over a mobile phone and memory device to the Angamaly magistrate, this contained the visuals of the assault.

February 26, 2017: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is slammed by the Opposition for suggesting that there is no conspiracy in the case as alleged by the survivor. 

April 18, 2017: Police file the first chargesheet in the case, naming Pulsar Suni and six others as accused. 

May 18, 2017: The Women in Cinema Collective, formed by the survivor’s friends in the industry to show their solidarity as well as highlight the various issues concerning women professionals in the industry, meets with CM Pinarayi Vijayan and submits a petition asking for swift action in the case.

This is the first part of the case. Though Pulsar Suni and his gang were arrested, the police continued to investigate if Pulsar Suni acted on his own or was hired by someone who was not in the vehicle, but wanted to harm the survivor. 

June 23, 2017: Reports suggest that the police are set to reopen the case. Jinson, a prison inmate of Pulsar Suni at Kakkanad sub-jail, has disclosed that the latter had shared with him some details about the crime. This is viewed as a major twist in the case.

June 24, 2017: A letter purportedly sent by Pulsar Suni to actor Dileep surfaces. Dileep is one of the biggest stars in the Malayalam film industry and has also acted in several films with the survivor. He was previously married to the survivor's close friend, actor Manju Warrier. On the same day, Dileep and his close friend, director Nadirsha, tell a TV channel that they had received a phone call from a person claiming to be Suni’s prison mate demanding Rs 1.5 crore to not reveal Dileep’s name in the case.

June 26, 2017: In an interview to Reporter channel, Dileep blames the survivor for the sexual assault, insinutating that she had been friends with Pulsar Suni.

June 28, 2017: Dileep and Nadirsha are questioned for nearly 13 hours by the investigating team headed by ADGP B Sandhya and Aluva Rural SP AV George.

July 10, 2017: In a big move, the SIT arrests Dileep. He is housed in the Aluva sub-jail. The motive for the crime is said to be revenge since the survivor was among Dileep's then wife Manju Warrier's friends, who had informed her about his alleged affair with co-star Kavya Madhavan. Dileep and Kavya later got married in 2016, after his divorce with Manju.

July 11, 2017: The Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) expels Dileep but after much pressure and public uproar.

August 15, 2017: Following defamatory comments made by Poonjar MLA PC George, the survivor writes a letter to the Kerala CM seeking his intervention. “Should I have killed myself?” she asks in the letter, alluding to the MLA’s insistence that she did not demonstrate victim behaviour. Later, in September, she files a police complaint against PC George for defaming her.

September 6, 2017: For the first time after he was jailed, Dileep is let out for two hours to perform the rituals in connection with his father’s death anniversary.

September 10, 2017: Members of the WCC launch ‘Avakoppam’ (With Her) campaign on social media to express their solidarity with the survivor. The campaign is triggered by the open show of support towards accused Dileep by some in the industry. Several people from the industry post in support of the survivor following this. 

September 28, 2017: Dileep’s Ramleela releases even as he remains in jail. While many protest the release, others defend it, pointing out that it is a question of livelihood for several others involved in the film.

October 3, 2017: After several attempts and after spending 85 days in jail, Dileep is granted bail.

November 22, 2017:  The investigating team files the subsidiary chargesheet at the Angamaly Magistrate Court. Running into 650 pages, it names 12 accused in the case, Dileep being the eighth accused. It makes his former wife and leading actor, Manju Warrier, a key witness.

December 5, 2017: The court accepts the chargesheet. Over the course of the month, more than 50 people from the Malayalam film industry are witnesses in the case; those grilled by the police include several big names.

January 20, 2018: ADGP Sandhya, who is part of the team investigating the case,  is transferred in a reshuffle of the top brass. Meanwhile, Dileep goes to court with an extraordinary request, he demanded a copy of the sexual assault video. He wanted to watch it and prove that this was a conspiracy against him. 

February 7, 2018: The court rejects Dileep’s plea to access visuals of the assault. The Magistrate Court in Angamaly also shifts the trial to the Ernakulam District Sessions Court. Following this, Dileep goes to the High Court and Supreme Court asking for the visual, both reject his plea. SC rejects it in November 2019.

June 25, 2018: With superstar Mohanlal as the President, AMMA decides to reinstate Dileep. 

June 28, 2018: Dileep declines AMMA’s invite to rejoin. 

November 2019: The trial in the case began in November but it was halted after the survivor approached the HC, seeking to shift the trial to another court. The prosecution had alleged that the trial court judge was being biased throughout the trial. It was in fact th survivor who had asked for a woman judge.

January 6, 2020: The trial court framed charges against Dileep, Pulsar Suni and eight other accused. 

January 30, 2020: After nearly three years since the crime, the trial begins.

September 18, 2020: After several witnesses in the case turn hostile, including actors Bhamaa (the survivor’s friend), Sidhique, Edavela Babu and Bindu Panniker, members of the WCC express their solidarity with the survivor again.

October 28, 2020: The survivor moves Kerala HC, asking for judge Honey M Varghese to be changed due to her alleged hostile and biased attitude.

November 23, 2020: After the Kerala HC rejected the survivor’s petition, Special Public Prosecutor A Suresan quits, criticising judge Honey M Varghese’s biased approach.

December 2, 2020: Kerala government moves SC, asking for the judge to be changed.

December 15, 2020: The SC rejects the Kerala government’s plea.

January 4, 2021: A new SPP, VN Anilkumar, is appointed in the case.

December 25, 2021: As the trial of the case is nearing an end, director Balachandrakumar, a former friend of Dileep’s, makes several allegations against the actor. He claims that Dileep was in possession of the visuals of the assault well before he watched them at the Magistrate’s court. He also releases several voice clips that could be incriminating for Dileep. Among these are clips in which male voices can be heard discussing an attack on the police officers investigating the case. Balachandrakumar also mentions a ‘VIP’ who allegedly helped Dileep in the case. 

Watch: Dhanya Rajendran's interview with Balachandrakumar

December 29, 2021: SPP VN Anilkumar also quits the case, reportedly after an argument with judge Honey M Varghese, who had issued an order against allowing the prosecution to re-examine certain witnesses. 

January 4, 2022: Dileep writes to the DGP, asking to stop further probe into the case.

January 5, 2022: Kerala government asks SC for a six-month extension to finish the trial in light of recent developments. The trial court had asked for further probe to be completed by January 20.

January 7, 2022: Kerala government forms a new investigation team under Sreejith IPS.

January 9, 2022: Police file new FIR against Dileep over audio clips submitted by Balachandrakumar.

January 10, 2022: Dileep seeks anticipatory bail.

January 10, 2022: The survivor posts about her struggle from her Instagram account, revealing her identity for the first time. 

January 10, 2022: Many from the Malayalam film industry share her post, expressing their solidarity with her.

Related Stories

No stories found.
The News Minute