By Sharanya Gopinathan
So, Malayalam actor Dileep, arrested in July on suspicion of conspiring to have a female actor kidnapped and sexually assaulted, has just been granted bail after three of his earlier pleas were rejected.
Before we get into just how the tides have turned since he got bail, let’s just go over why the Kerala High Court denied him bail so many times in the first place: Because he’s an influential person with the ability to interfere with the court proceedings, that crucial pieces of evidence (like the famed memory card on which visuals of the assault had been recorded) had not been found yet, and there was reason to believe that Dileep had tampered with evidence before and would do it again, and that there was substantial evidence to tie him to the conspiracy and that releasing him on bail could affect the witnesses as well. All of these facts remain true today, so it’s hard to understand why he’s finally been granted bail despite all the above reasons.
I suppose what’s done is done, and Dileep is currently out on bail, and boy, has that made all the difference. Back when he was arrested, he was immediately thrown out of many of the associations and groups he was a leader of, including the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) and The Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala (aptly known as FEUOK).
Now, FEUOK has immediately reinstated Dileep as president of the union. Was was the point of throwing him out in the first place? FEUOK acts like it was necessary to throw Dileep out of the union for as long as he wasn’t granted bail. And now that he’s out on bail, it’s clearly business as usual. They’re even talking about having him “re-elected” to the post of president, and refuse to answer questions about what they’ll do if Dileep is found guilty after all.
There’s been some rumblings over at AMMA as well. Pathanapuram MLA and AMMA Vice-President KB Ganesh Kumar has spoken out against AMMA’s decision to throw him out, and has said that they did so only because of actor Prithviraj (who has been quite vocal about his support for the abducted Malayalam actor since the assault took place). He isn’t the only powerful MLA in Dileep’s corner — even before he was let out on bail, MLA PC George spoke out in support of Dileep, saying he had been framed, and even more disgustingly, wondering aloud how the survivor could have turned up to work the next day if she had really been assaulted.
He’s also been visited by other members of the film industry, such Siddique, Prayaga Martin, KPAC Lalitha, Ponnamma Babu, his close confidante and director Nadhirshah (who’s name keeps cropping up in the assault case too), Tomichan Mulakuppadam, and director Arun Gopy. I only mention these names so that in case you don’t feel like patronising the films of, or voting for, people who support violent criminals who rape women, you know whom to boycott.
Even the media seems to have taken this to mean that Dileep is innocent or at least deserves some of our sympathy. Manorama Online takes the cake with their actual headline, “Dileep needs some time with family. Everything else can wait” along with pictures of him smiling with his wife and an unidentified baby. Er, actually, the survivor needs justice, and everything else can wait, but sure, let’s humanise and romanticise a violent criminal who’ll very likely tamper with the case, being let out on bail.
It’s just crazy. A look at the facts of this case make it clear that this isn’t a man who should have ever been let off on bail in the first place, given how strongly he’s tied to the case, his influence within the film industry and amongst powerful politicians (remember, when the assault took place in February, even the Chief Minister of Kerala showed his support for Dileep), and his previous attempts at misleading police and tampering with evidence. Now that he has been granted bail, let’s please remember that bail isn’t even close to an acquittal, and there’s a lot of work to be done to make sure he gets the punishment he deserves.
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