South Indian actress and director Revathy has expressed anger at prosecution witnesses Bhama and Siddique turning hostile in the assault case involving actor Dileep.
The trial is taking place at the Kochi High Court.
In a passionate social media post, Revathy questioned the integrity of the two actors, who changed their original statements at a recent hearing.
Recently, news emerged that the colleagues of the survivor — who was sexually assaulted in a moving vehicle in 2017 — had recorded statements about an alleged fight between actor Dileep and the unnamed actress, but the witnesses have now given contradictory statements.
“It’s sad that we can’t trust our own colleagues in the film industry. So many years of work, so many projects, but when there is an issue for a ‘woman’ it all takes a back seat. There is no memory of all that friendship and shared work space,” wrote Revathy.
She was especially disappointed with Bhama — a friend and colleague of the survivor — who went cold.
Siddique and Bhama have joined two other actors, Bindu Panniker and Edavela Babu, who turned hostile, thus weakening the prosecution.
“In the famous but not spoken much about these days, the Actress Assault case of 2017, Edavela Babu and Bindu Panniker pulled back on their own statements in court, well could not have expected much from them. And now it’s Mr Siddique and Bhamaa. I suppose one can understand why Mr Siddique did it but Bhamaa??? Having been a friend and confidant she too denies what she told the cops soon after the incident,” Revathy wrote.
Siddique and Bhama had earlier given a statement that there was a war of words between the actress and top actor-producer Dileep during a stage show organised by AMMA (Association of Malayalam Movie Artists).
“The survivor has been going through such tough times all these years just to get justice which will be an opening to justice for women in general... why is it that no one thinks about what goes on in a survivor’s life and family for having filed a complaint? Just to remind that the people who were with HER and still with HER,” Revathy added.
As a show solidarity and support towards the survivor, Revathy has started a hashtag #Avalkoppam which we means #WeAreWithHer.
Revathy isn’t alone in her anger. Accomplished actresses including Parvathy Thiruvothu and Rima Kallingal also expressed disappointment about the actors changing their tune in the assault case.
“Shame. Deeply hurt that colleagues who stood by the survivor have turned hostile in the last minute when she needed their help the most. As much as we know that the women who have turned hostile are also victims in some sense who have no place in the power equation of the industry, even then it hurts the most,” said Kallingal in a Facebook post.
Kallingal has acted in iconic films including the rape vengeance thriller ‘Female 22 Kottayam’.
Thiruvothu, who acted with late actor Irrfan Khan in ‘Qarib Qarib Single’ and in hits including ‘Bangalore Days’, also extended her support towards the survivor. She claimed she was in ‘total shock at how witnesses are turning hostile’.
“A survivor has been put through hoops of fire and constant trauma over the last three years. We have seen her stand tall and fight for justice. It has been plain torture … Heartbreaking. Nevertheless, I want to believe her fight for justice will triumph. Standing by her! #Avalkoppam,” Thiruvothu said.
Actress Remya Nambeesan, who is another friend and supporter of the survivor, also called the flipping of witnesses as a ‘betrayal’.
“Truth hurts but betrayal. When someone you thought is fighting along with you suddenly changes colour, it hurts. Deeply. I have heard about witnesses turning hostile in cases but when the survivor is your own, how can you betray her?” posted Nambeesan. She also added that even though there’s a setback, the truth will triumph.
As of now, the prosecution has approached a special court in Kochi seeking a cancellation of Dileep’s bail plea on the grounds that the influential and privileged actor from Malayalam cinema is trying to influence witnesses in the case.
The plea will be considered in a hearing on September 22.
In July 2017, actor Dileep was arrested and was in jail for several weeks.
Director Anjali Menon, who helmed ‘Bangalore Days’, also spoke about the survivor’s courage through these trying times.
“Courage is about looking fear in the eye. In her incredible difficult journey made worse by all those who could have made it better, she has shown courage. I stand by her,” she wrote.
The actress’ alleged assault in 2017 was one of the biggest high-profile crime stories to emerge from the Kerala film industry.
Actor Dileep — who was known as the common man’s superhero — was arrested and accused of orchestrating the sexual assault of his colleague in a moving vehicle to settle personal scores.
After the allegations, Dileep’s reputation and popularity has waned.