Malayalam superstar Dileep, who was arrested in connection with the abduction and molestation of a popular actress in February, was remanded in custody yesterday for 14 days and also removed as member from various film associations.
The actor was questioned at an undisclosed location near here on Monday and later the police probe team recorded his arrest.
“I am innocent and I will prove my innocence. I was trapped,” the actor claimed before being taken to the Aluva sub-jail.
Coincidentally, Dileep’s last film in 2016 was Welcome to Central Jail and people who gathered in front of the prison were heard shouting slogans, Welcome to Central Jail.
The police decided to arrest Dileep based on 19 pieces of evidence that they were able to gather in connection with the abduction of the young actress on February 17 when she was travelling from Thrissur to Kochi by road.
The police claim the twice-married actor hatched the plan with accused Pulsar Suni, a driver of actor and ruling party legislator Mukesh, in 2013 after the former had a quarrel with the actress.
The police say Dileep wanted to seek revenge against her as he believed she was responsible for the break-up of his marriage with actress Manju Warrier by carrying tales about his relations with Kavya Madhavan, a former co-star and now wife.
After the victim got engaged last year to a Kannada film producer, Dileep is alleged to have told Suni it was the right time to teach her a lesson and inflict the pain of losing a partner.
The actor is alleged to have promised Suni Rs20mn to execute the plan. The crime was carried out nearly five months ago.
The charges made out against Dileep in the detailed custody report could attract a life sentence under the country’s strict anti-rape law.
The arrest has shocked the industry as the actor virtually controlled the reins of the main industry bodies of actors, producers and distributors. The industry also stands to lose an estimated Rs600mn with projects likely to be stalled.
The release of his big-budget Ramaleela directed by debutant Arun Gopi is now on hold. Though the film producer, Tomichan Mulakupadam, has said the movie will be released on July 21, others feel this may be unlikely in view of the protests against the actor.
The shooting of Kammarasambhavam and a 3D movie, Professor Dinkan, is only halfway through. Saddam Sivan and Njarana Mon are other projects in the pipeline which all are likely to be stalled.
Meanwhile, executives of Association of Malayalam Movies Artistes (AMMA) – which had come under heavy attack from several quarters over its stand on the issue – removed Dileep as treasurer and member.
The Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala, which he launched last month and the Kerala Film Producers’ Association and Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA) have also expelled him.
The AMMA executive took the decision at an emergency meeting at the house of superstar Mammootty, who told the media: “We wish to state we have always been with the victim and will continue to support her. Please don’t misunderstand us, we are for the welfare of our members. Let the police go forward with their probe.”
Earlier the police had forcibly removed scores of Youth Congress workers who took out a march to Mammootty’s house and tried to place a wreath there.
At the AMMA meeting, young stars like Remya Nambeesan, Asif Ali and Prithviraj demanded action against Dileep.
“The truth has triumphed, finally. I’m happy,” said Nambeesan. “We want to go to our workplaces without fear (of sexual assaults),” she said.
In jail hardly a kilometre away from his home, reports said, Dileep was staying in a cell with four petty criminals, and he was eating the food the authorities provided.
The counsel for Dileep, K Ramkumar, yesterday said the actor’s bail application would be taken up by the Angamaly court on Friday. The police will also move an application for Dileep’s custody, for further questioning.
Commenting on the developments, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the “law will take its course.” “Anyone who has done a wrong, irrespective of the stature, will be proceeded against. The probe is continuing and none who did a wrong will be allowed to escape,” Vijayan stressed.
Malayalam actor Dileep is taken to Aluva jail yesterday.