Nothing, nothing can be more heinous than a rape – the raping of a woman who may be physically weak and vulnerable in every sense of the term. All of us know this, but as a nation, India's conscience was shaken and stunned, perhaps for the first time, by the 2012 Nirbhaya case in Delhi – where a young girl was brutally assaulted in a moving bus by several men. Later she died. If it was rape most repulsive, it was also murder most malevolent.
But what happened in Kerala in 2017 was even more sinister. It was for the first time that I heard of a “supari rapist”, reportedly hired by no less a superstar celebrity to molest a well-known actress in a moving car. I am talking about Dileep.
He is now being tried as one of the several accused in this horrific crime, and here is the story in short. Dileep was supposedly having an affair with actress Kavya Madhavan, and the superstar's wife, Manju Warrier, got wind of this through her friend – the actress who fell victim to rapists. A livid Dileep is said to have hired a “supari” to teach the actress a lesson. Not just this. The whole perverse act was recorded with the actress' engagement ring prominently captured on screen!
Dileep, who was arrested and who got bail after 85 days, is now, according to The News Minute, “employing delay tactics “ to keep prolonging the judicial hearing. His earlier demand for a copy of the video was rejected by two courts, though he was given the CCTV visuals of the car in which the crime took place as it was being driven from Thrissur to Kochi.
The court has made it amply clear that the trial cannot be postponed. One can only be happy that the Indian judiciary is taking a firm stand on issues that involve such horrific deeds. This comes at a time when I have seen so many instances of courts being lenient towards stars – sometimes despite police protests.
I was saddened to read some months ago that well-known Tamil actor Jai (with movies such as Idhu Namma Aalu and Enakku Vaaitha Adimaigal in his kitty) was let off lightly by a Chennai court after a drunk driving misdemeanor. On September 21 last year, he was booked for driving his car under the influence of alcohol and crashing it into a road divider in the city. He was asked to appear before a magistrate, which he failed to do. So, a non-bailable warrant was issued against him. Jai did pay heed to this, and came to the court, where his driving licence was suspended for six months and he was told to pay a fine of Rs 5,000!
Going by media reports, the police were seemingly unhappy with this light penalty, because they had informed the court that this was the second time Jai was caught driving in an inebriated state. A court order is a court order, and one must respect it, but sometimes I think that men, even in the higher echelons of power tend to get so enamoured of film stars that they are allowed all kinds of privileges.
The classic case of this is actor Salman Khan, once nicknamed 'The Bad Boy of Bollywood'. Everybody knows that he was at the wheel when his car ran over sleeping pavement dwellers in Mumbai, and that he was sozzled. But Khan managed to delay the legal process so inordinately that witnesses vanished and memory blurred. Finally he was acquitted. Khan has still one more case pending – shooting black buck in Rajasthan's Bishnoi territory, where the deer is held sacred. He may well escape punishment this time as well.
One hopes that Dileep, if proven guilty, will face the consequences of an atrocity as savage as rape.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is an author, commentator and movie critic, who may be e-mailed at email@example.com )