New Delhi: While three of the seven men accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a popular Malayalam actor have been arrested by the Kerala police, several media outlets have come under fire for the manner in which the incident was reported.
According to the Indian Express, the 30-year-old actor was abducted in Kochi on the night of February 17 and molested by a gang of men who also took pictures and video footage of her.
The actor was returning home from a film shoot when the men forcibly boarded her car when it stopped at a traffic signal and drove around with her for nearly two hours, Hindustan Times reported.
Sunil Kumar, who is among those accused and who has criminal charges against him, was a temporary driver of the actor. She had previously complained about his behaviour. Police have arrested Martin, who was allegedly driving the actor’s car and is suspected to have been involved in the incident.
After the attack, the accused fled in another car and the actor sought refuge in a director friend’s house. She lodged a police complaint later that night.
A case has been filed under relevant sections of the IPC including 376 (rape), 366 (kidnapping a woman), 506 (criminal intimidation) and other relevant sections of the IT Act.
Apart from the incident, what has also left several infuriated is the manner in which Kairali TV reported it. According to The News Minute, the CPI (M) affiliated Malayalam news channel aired ‘details’ of the incident and even went as far as insinuating a relationship between the actor and the driver who was behind the attack.
One leading newspaper even named the actor in their earlier reports.
Actor Prithviraj Sukumaran took to social media to slam the outlets and alleged in a Facebook post that the “horrifying news” had been “reported, misreported and sensationalised.”
Actor Rima Kallingal also hit out at Kairali TV for “sensationalising” the incident at a time when “a human being is going through the biggest horror of her life.”
The news channel has issued an apology for the same.
“This is the first time that a Mollywood artist is facing such a situation. It’s quite normal for stars like her to travel at ungodly hours after work,” a dubbing artiste, Bhagyalakshmi, told Malayayam Manorama.
“It’s not the matter of a celebrity, it’s the matter of being a woman. This incident shows that our girls are no longer safe. It’s a case of shame and shock.”