Vanitha Magazine, a popular Malayalam women’s magazine, is facing backlash on social media for its January issue cover story featuring actor Dileep and his family. Dileep is the eighth accused in the ongoing abduction and sexual assault case of a female Malayalam actor.
On Thursday, Vanitha Magazine shared the cover of its next issue featuring a photo of the actor and his family along with the text “‘Only one prayer’. Dileep along with family”.
Vanitha Magazine’s cover story comes at a time when further investigation has been launched by the Kerala police against Dileep in the wake of fresh allegations against him. On February 17, 2017, a female Malayalam actor was abducted and sexually assaulted in a moving vehicle. Actor Dileep was arrested as the eighth accused in the case, after allegations that he had conspired the assault surfaced. The case has been pending in the court for years now.
Last week, in a new development in the case, director Balachandra Kumar alleged that Dileep had watched the video of the sexual assault at his house and added that the actor knew Pulsar Suni, the first accused in the case. The director even alleged that Dileep had influenced some of the significant witnesses in the case, who turned hostile during the trial. The survivor also recently wrote to the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seeking further investigation in the case.
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Soon after Vanitha Magazine, which is a part of the Malayala Manorama group, shared the January cover story, social media users were quick to call out the magazine for featuring an accused in a sexual assault case on its cover while positioning itself as a women’s magazine.
Journalist and author of The Women Who Forgot to Invent Facebook, Nisha Susan tweeted a photo of the cover page and wrote, “What gross crap, Vanitha magazine. Shame.”
Retweeting her post, actor Swara Bhasker wrote, “This man is Dileep- Malyalam film industry star (pretty incriminatingly) accused of sponsoring the kidnapping & assault of an actress & colleague in 2017. Spent many months in jail. On bail now. Victim has written to Kerala CM to expedite justice. Shame on you Vanitha magazine. (sic)”
Journalist and co-founder of The News Minute, Dhanya Rajendran called out the hypocrisy of the magazine on Facebook and wrote, “At a time when a further investigation has started into a heinous crime, and the man you see in the picture is the one being investigated, the magazine that calls itself the friend of women, publishes this.” The tagline of the magazine is ‘Vanithakalude Suhruthum Vazhikaattiyum’ (The friend and guide of women).
Rajendran wrote that a media organisation as powerful as the Manorama group need not stoop so low for revenue and added, “Media organisations have obligations to society, especially to women, marginalised and others. The way things are going, maybe Dileep may get acquitted. Then all the media houses who have tried to whitewash him can openly celebrate. Till then, have basic decency.”
The police recently recorded filmmaker Balachandra Kumar’s statement and submitted the same to the Ernakulam Additional Special Sessions Court. The court has directed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to further investigate and file a report, by January 20. According to Mathrubhumi, Senior officer KP Philip, Crime Branch SP KS Sudarsan and MJ Sojan, Nedumbassery CI PM Baiju will be part of the team.