Hacker Sai Shankar arrested for allegedly deleting chats from Dileep's phone

Sai Shankar had earlier approached the Kerala HC for pre-arrest bail, on the suspicion that he would be tortured in police custody.
File image of Actor Dileep
File image of Actor Dileep
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The Kerala Crime Branch on Friday, April 8, arrested Sai Shankar, a cyber expert and hacker alleged to have deleted data from actor Dileep’s phone. The Crime Branch had accused Dileep and others of conspiring to kill police officials investigating the 2017 actor assault case. While the new FIR against Dileep, his brother Anoop, brother-in-law Suraj and three others for alleged conspiracy was filed on January 9, 2022, the Crime Branch has alleged that messages were deleted from Dileep’s phone towards the end of January.

According to reports, Sai Shankar was arrested from Andhra Pradesh. He hails from Kozhikode and is the seventh accused in the conspiracy case. On March 17, the Crime Branch raided six locations linked with Sai Shankar, and found an iMac laptop among other electronic items. Upon further examination, it was found that the iMac, which belongs to Sai Shankar’s wife, was used to delete data from Dileep’s phone on January 29, before Dileep’s iPhone and the phones of others were sent for forensic examination by the judicial magistrate.

While Sai Shankar was directed by the Crime Branch to appear before them on March 18, he had requested additional time. Later, on March 21, Sai Shankar sought pre-arrest bail in the Kerala High Court, based on the suspicion that he would be tortured in police custody. Further, while he denied allegations of deleting data, in his bail plea, he added that even if the allegations were true, he could only be charged under Section 201 of the Indian Penal Code for destroying evidence, which is a bailable offense.

Meanwhile, Dileep, in Kerala High Court, had claimed that the extraction, restoration or deletion of data from a phone by its user was neither clandestine nor illegal. Regarding the clearing of 12 WhatsApp messages from his phone, the actor contended that the same is a regular process adopted by many users of the messaging platform. More recently, on Wednesday, April 6, the Crime Branch told a magistrate court in Aluva that 12 WhatsApp chats were deleted by the actor before he handed over his phone for investigation. According to the CB, most of the 12 numbers are registered in Dubai, and some belong to businessmen. Further, among the deleted chats are those with Dileep’s wife Kavya Madhavan and his brother-in-law Sooraj.

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