Malayalam News

5 Years Since Female Actor’s Abduction & Assault: Here’s a Timeline of the Major Developments in the Case

Justice delayed is justice denied. It has been almost five years since a Malayalam female actor was abducted and sexually assaulted in a moving car in Kochi. As of today, the trial is still underway, with hundreds of witnesses examined and several major arrests. Accusations and revelations are still being made. 


At the end of 2021, the case gained momentum again with some serious allegations levelled against actor Dileep – one of the accused – by filmmaker Balachandra Kumar, who claims to be the actor’s former friend. Following this, a fresh probe was ordered and a new investigative team has been appointed by the Kerala government.

We give you here a timeline of the major events related to the case over the past five years:


February 17: A female actor who predominantly works in Malayalam and Kannada cinema is abducted and sexually assaulted in a moving car by a gang of men while en route to Kochi from Thrissur. She files a police complaint on the same day and an FIR is registered.

February 18: The actor’s driver, Martin Antony, is arrested, followed by the arrest of two others, namely Vadivel Salim and Pradeep. Upon interrogation, it is found that the crime was planned by the actor’s former driver, Pulsar Suni.

February 23: Pulsar Suni is taken into police custody just as he is going to surrender before the additional chief judicial magistrate in Ernakulam. 

April 18: Police file the first charge sheet in the case against Pulsar Suni and six other accused.

May 18: A group of female artists and technicians from the Malayalam film industry, including actors Manju Warrier, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Rima Kallingal, Geethu Mohandas, and editor Bina Paul, announce the formation of Women in Cinema Collective (WCC), an organisation for women working in Malayalam cinema. They meet Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and raise concerns about problems faced by women in the film industry. The WCC also begins a social media campaign called Avalodoppam (With Her), in solidarity with the survivor.

June 24: A letter supposedly written by Suni from Kakkanad jail to Dileep is leaked. This brings the case back into the limelight. Following this, the actor and his close friend, filmmaker Nardishah, tell the media that they were blackmailed by an aide of Suni for Rs 1.5 crore.

June 26: In an interview with a news outlet, Dileep alleges that the victim was friends with the main accused, Pulsar Suni, and adds that one should be extremely careful while choosing friends.

June 27: The survivor slams Dileep for defaming her in the interview and warns of legal action for spreading baseless rumours about her.

June 28: Police record the statements of Dileep and Nadirshah. Meanwhile, the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) extends unanimous support to Dileep. 

July 6: During an interrogation, Suni confesses that he had contacted Nadirshah and Dileep’s manager, Appunni, from Kakkanad jail, Kochi.

July 10: Dileep is arrested for allegedly orchestrating the abduction and sexual assault of the female actor. The remand report notes that Dileep offered Rs 2 crore to the prime accused, Pulsar Suni, to attack the female actor and shoot a video of her. While Dileep had initially told the police that he never met Suni, the police investigation reveals that the two knew each other from at least 2013.

July 11: Following his arrest, Dileep is sent to Aluva sub-jail. AMMA sacks Dileep from the post of treasurer and expels him from the association as well. 

July 13: The survivor, in a press release, says that she had no business dealings with Dileep. She adds that their friendship had gone awry and that his arrest shocked her, too. 

July 31: Dileep’s manager Apunni, who absconded soon after the actor’s arrest, finally appears for questioning at the Aluva Police club.

August 2: Police questions Madhu Warrier, brother of Dileep’s ex-wife Manju Warrier.

August 30: Suni, while being escorted by police to court, tells reporters that Kavya Madhavan, actor and wife of Dileep, was the madam” that the accused had taken instructions from.

September 2: The court in Kochi allows Dileep a two-hour break from jail to take part in his father’s remembrance day prayers on September 6.

September 27: The prosecution informs the Kerala High Court that Dileep offered Rs 3 crore for the abduction of the female actor in February. 

September 28, Amidst calls for a boycott, Dileep’s film Ramaleela releases in theatres. 

October 3: After 85 days in jail, Dileep is granted bail by the Kerala High Court based on his fifth plea overall and the third before the HC. The actors’ fans and friends crowd the premises of the prison to welcome him. 

November 1: Women in Cinema Collective is registered as a society in Kerala. 


June 24: After actor Mohanlal takes charge as AMMA’s new president, one of the first decisions of the new leadership is to revoke the suspension of Dileep. WCC protests through Facebook.

June  28: Four members of WCC – actors Rima Kallingal, Geetu Mohandas, Remya Nambeesan, and the survivor – resign from AMMA. The artists declare that they will continue fighting for justice outside AMMA.

August 14: The Kerala High Court rejects Dileep’s plea seeking a copy of the visuals of the attack on the female actor. The court concurs with the prosecution’s argument that providing it would be an intrusion into the privacy of the victim.


December 19: The Kerala High Court rejects Dileep’s plea seeking a CBI investigation into the case. The actor, who is the eighth accused in the case, had claimed in his plea that he was being framed in the case by the Kerala police.


February 25: In view of a plea from the survivor, the Kerala High Court allows a woman judge to preside over the case. Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan allocates the case to CBI special court judge Honey M Varghese.

March 7: The Kerala HC slams actor Dileep for trying to delay trial proceedings in the actor assault case. This is in response to his plea against the court’s order to complete the trial in six months.

April 9: The Kerala government informs the Supreme Court that it will not frame charges against Dileep until the court disposes of the actor’s petition for a copy of the visuals of the assault.

May 3: The Supreme Court stays the trial against Dileep in the Malayalam actor assault case to decide on his plea for a copy of the visuals. The order is issued after the Kerala government asks for more time to present its argument that the memory card containing video footage of the alleged assault is evidence in the case and not a document that can be handed over to the accused.

November 29: The Supreme Court rejects Dileep’s plea to access the memory card containing video clippings of the assault due to the privacy and safety concerns of the survivor. However, he is allowed to inspect the visuals. 


January 4: The trial court dismisses Dileep’s petition seeking a discharge in the actor abduction case.

February 27: Actor Manju Warrier is cross-examined by former husband Dileep’s counsel. 

March 9: Actor Bindu Panicker turns a hostile witness during examination in court. Earlier, Idavela Babu, AMMA’s general secretary, had also given contradictory statements during his examination the prior week.

September 17: Actors and witnesses, Siddique and Bhama, turn hostile.

October 28: The survivor moves the Kerala High Court seeking a transfer of the trial to another court, complaining that she was treated with hostility during the hearing of the case.

November 20: Kerala High Court refuses to transfer the case to another court. 

November 23: A Sureshan, the special public prosecutor in the actor abduction and sexual assault case, resigns following the High Court’s refusal to transfer the trial. 

December 1: After the Kerala HC refuses to transfer the case, the Kerala government moves the Supreme Court by filing a Special Leave Petition. The SC later rejects the State’s plea and upholds the decision of the HC.


January 21: After three months of hiatus, the trial of the case resumes at Additional Special Sessions Court in Ernakulam. However, it comes to a halt after accused-turned-approver Vipin Lal fails to turn up at court.

February 25: The court rejects the prosecution’s petition to cancel the bail granted to Dileep. The petition had requested the cancellation of Dileep’s bail because he tried to influence some of the witnesses in the case.

March 1: The Supreme Court gives the Ernakulam Addition Special Sessions Court an extension of six months to complete the trial.

August 10: Actor Kavya Madhavan, the wife of actor Dileep, appears before the Ernakulam Additional Special Sessions Court and is questioned.

August 16: The Supreme Court gives the Ernakulam Addition Special Sessions Court yet another extension of six months to complete the trial.

November 15: The Kerala High Court grants bail to Manikandan, the third accused in the case.

December 25: Filmmaker Balachandra Kumar, who claims to be a former friend of Dileep, alleges in a media interaction that Dileep had watched the video of the sexual assault at his house. He also says the actor knew Pulsar Suni and that Dileep influenced some of the significant witnesses in the case, who later turned hostile during the trial. Balachandra Kumar also submits a complaint to the chief minister and the chief of police. 

December 28: The Kerala High Court seeks a response from actor Dileep and the other accused on two separate petitions from the prosecution. One petition is regarding the state government’s appeal against the trial court’s orders declining the plea to summon further witnesses in the case and the other is about getting certified copies of the call records of the accused.

December 29: WCC, through social media, seeks the intervention of the Kerala CM for a thorough investigation and a fair trial. The body also asks if the law and order machinery of the state has acknowledged Balachandra Kumar’s testimony against the accused and questions why the mainstream media is not giving adequate attention to this matter.

December 30: Special Public Prosecutor VN Anilkumar resigns. While the reason for his resignation is unclear, reports cite an argument with the judge the previous day.


January: The survivor writes to the CM seeking further investigation in the case in view of the recent revelations made by director Balachandra Kumar. She urges the CM to appoint an able SPP to take her case forward. Vanitha Magazine, a popular Malayalam women’s magazine, faces backlash on social media for featuring actor Dileep and his family in its January issue cover story. The interview in its entirety seems to be an attempt at whitewashing the Janapriya Nayakan’s accused image.

January 4: Police submits Balachandra Kumar’s statement to the Ernakulam Additional Special Sessions Court. The court directs the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to further investigate and file a report by January 20.


January 7: Kerala High Court asks the prosecution how filmmaker Balachandra Kumar’s revelations about Dileep would help them in the trial and adds that adequate reasons are needed to recall and re-examine the witnesses. 

January 9: The Kerala Crime Branch files a new FIR against Dileep and five others for allegedly conspiring to kill the officers who investigated his involvement in the female actor abduction and sexual assault case. The new case is registered following the release of audio clips implicating the accused by Balachandra Kumar. A new investigation team – including members of the previous team who were allegedly plotted against by Dileep and his associates – is formed by the Kerala government to probe the case in view of these developments.

January 10: Breaking her long silence, the female actor who was abducted and sexually assaulted in February 2017 publicly opens up for the first time, through her official social media account. In the Instagram post, the survivor extends her gratitude to all those who have supported her. Her post is reshared by many artists in the industry, including Mammootty and Mohanlal.

That same day, Dileep files for anticipatory bail at the Kerala High Court in the new FIR against him for allegedly conspiring to kill the investigating officers.

January 11: The bail plea comes up for hearing, but Dileep’s counsel informs the court that senior advocate B Raman Pillai, who was supposed to lead the case, is unwell. The court thus adjourns the matter to January 14 and orders that no action be taken against the actor till then.

January 12: Urging for consequential action, WCC puts out a statement questioning how the recent wave of support for the survivor and the expressions of solidarity will translate into real-world actions and systemic change.

January 13: The Kerala crime branch launches a raid of actor Dileep’s residence in Aluva, his production company’s office and his brother’s Anoop’s house to search for an unlicensed pistol that Balachandra Kumar said the actor had. After almost eight hours of the raid, officials seize mobile phones and computer hard disks. No pistol was found.

January 14: Dileep’s bail plea comes up for hearing. Justice Gopinath P states that he wants to see the statements made by filmmaker Balachandra Kumar, to understand his allegations against Dileep before passing an order on the actor’s petition.  He posts the hearing on January 18 and adds that until then no action be taken against him.

January 16: Kerala Women’s Commission Chairperson Sathidevi indicates that the Hema committee report is not bound to be brought up before the state assembly for debate as the committee had not been set up under the commission of Inquiry Act. Her statement follows a meeting with members of the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC), including actors Parvathy ThiruvothuPadmapriya, filmmakers Anjali Menon, Didi Damodaran, and playback singer Sayanora, at the government guest house in Kozhikode.

January 17: Actor Dileep approaches the Kerala High Court on Monday seeking to restrict media coverage of the trial. The same day, HC allows re-examination of three witnesses and summoning five additional witnesses in the case relating to the sexual assault case.

January 18: Based on Dileep’s plea seeking to restrict media coverage, the court orders the police to enquire into the allegations and submit a report in two weeks.

January 21: The Kerala High Court decides to hear actor Dileep’s anticipatory bail plea in the physical courtroom on Saturday (January 22).

January 22: The Kerala High Court grants actor Dileep and his associates’ interim protection from arrest till January 27, while hearing their anticipatory bail pleas in the conspiracy to murder case. The court also orders the accused to appear before the state police for questioning for three days (January 23, 24 and 25, between 9 am to 8 pm).

Actor Dileep raises counter allegations of extortion against filmmaker Balachandra Kumar, whose evidence led to a fresh probe being launched in the case.

January 24: The Supreme Court refuses to pass an order on the Kerala government’s plea, which requested an extension for completing the trial against Malayalam actor Dileep.

January 25: The Kerala High Court provides the prosecution 10 more days, to examine the additional witnesses summoned, in connection to the assault case.

January 27:  The Kerala High Court adjourns actor Dileep’s anticipatory bail plea hearing on February 2, after Director General of Prosecution TA Shaji informed the court that the examination of digital evidence was yet to be completed.

January 29: The Kerala High Court orders actor Dileep and the five others accused of conspiring to kill the officers who investigated the 2017 female actor abduction and assault case, to surrender their mobile phones to the HC registry by January 31.

January 31: Dileep and the other accused submit their mobile phones.

Following actor Dileep’s complaint, Kerala police register five FIRs against the Malayalam news channel Reporter TV and its head Nikesh Kumar for reporting on the female actor abduction and sexual assault case.

A new complaint is filed seeking an investigation into the death of Saleesh Vettiyattil, the mobile phone technician and short film director who serviced actor Dileep’s iPhone.

February 1: Crime branch raids Actor Dileep’s flat at Ravipuram in Kochi. On the same day, as per the Kerala HC’s direction, the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court in Aluva receives the six mobile phones of Dileep and the other accused.

February 5: The female Malayalam actor who was abducted and sexually assaulted in 2017, moves the Supreme Court seeking a probe into the alleged leaking of crime visuals from a lower court in the past.

February 7: The Kerala High Court grants anticipatory bail to actor Dileep and the other accused in the conspiracy to murder case filed against them.

A  week after that, Dileep moves the Kerala High Court seeking to quash the FIR filed against him for allegedly conspiring to kill the police officials who investigated his role in the female actor abduction and assault case.

February 15: The female Malayalam actor who was abducted and sexually assaulted in 2017, request to be heard by the Kerala High Court before it passes judgement on actor Dileep’s plea to suspend further investigation in the case. In his plea which was filed earlier, Dileep argues that further probe into the case should not be permitted as the final report had already been filed in November 2017, with the charges framed in January 2020. Further, only one prosecution witness, the investigating officer, was left to be examined, his petition noted.


February 18: The Kerala High Court directs the union and state governments to submit their stance on actor Dileep’s petition to quash the FIR against him in the conspiracy to murder case.

February 21: The female Malayalam actor who was abducted and sexually assaulted in 2017, moves the Kerala High Court, opposing actor Dileep’s recent petition that seeks to halt the further investigation in the case.

March 3: In a report filed before the Additional Special Sessions Court, in the female actor abduction and sexual assault case, the prosecution says that a memory card containing visuals of the sexual assault, which was in court custody, was accessed illegally.

March 8: The Kerala High Court dismisses actor Dileep’s plea seeking to suspend further investigation in the 2017 female actor abduction and assault case.

Actor Dileep, who allegedly conspired to kill the police officers probing the 2017 female actor abduction and sexual assault case, had tampered with the mobile phones submitted as evidence to the Kerala High Court registry, according to a forensic report by the Kerala police.

March 17: The Kerala High Court refuses to stay the probe against actor Dileep for allegedly conspiring to kill the police officers who investigated their role in the 2017 Female actor abduction and assault case.

March 19: Investigation reveals that a cyber expert named Sai Sankar had helped the accused in deleting data from the phones that were later submitted to the court.

March 28: The crime branch interrogates actor Dileep for seven hours at the police club in Aluva. He says that Kumar came up with such baseless allegations after he did not fall into the filmmaker’s blackmail trap.

March 29: Dileep’s interrogation as part of the fresh probe into the actor assault case continues for the second consecutive day. He continues to hold that he had no friendship with Kumar and also dismisses the allegations raised against him.  The probe team calls Kumar and the actor is questioned in his presence.

April: The survivor re-submits her complaint to the bar council of Kerala alleging professional misconduct on the part of Dileep’s lawyers.

April 8: Cyber expert Sai Sankar, who helped actor Dileep in removing data from his mobile phones, surrenders to the crime branch and confesses to helping the actor in tampering with evidence.

April 10: Manju Warrier, the Malayalam actor and former wife of actor Dileep, identifies his voice as well as those of the other accused in the 2017 assault case in the audio clips released by filmmaker Balachandra Kumar.

April 11: The court records the confidential statements of cyber expert Sai Shankar in the conspiracy to murder case filed against actor Dileep and his associates.

April 18: The police investigating the assault case urge the Additional Special Sessions Court to seek an explanation from Dileep, the alleged chief conspirator in the case, regarding confidential court documents found on his mobile phone.

April 19: The Kerala High Court dismisses a plea filed by actor Dileep seeking to quash an FIR registered against him for allegedly conspiring to murder police officials investigating the assault case.


April 26: Ernakulam Additional Special Sessions Court rules that there was no leak of evidence from the court in the assault case.

May 9: The interrogation of actor Kavya Madhavan, wife of Dileep, takes place at her residence in Aluva. Earlier, when she was asked to appear at the Aluva police club for the interrogation, she insisted that it should take place at her Padmasarovaram residence in Aluva.  Hence there was a delay as the police officials were in a dilemma about where to conduct the interrogation.

(This is an ongoing story that is periodically updated)