Police on Monday intensified search for four members of a gang that allegedly abducted and sexually assaulted a popular Malayalam actor when she was returning from a film shoot in Kerala’s Kochi, officials said.
Police have come under pressure from the film fraternity to nab the four remaining accused including a known history-sheeter, Pulsar Suni, believed to be the kingpin.
Three accused were held shortly after the incident on Friday night. They include her driver, identified only by his first name Martin.
The 30-year-old actor, who was returning to Kochi after a shoot in Thrissur, said in her complaint that she was abducted by the seven-member gang and assaulted for nearly two hours in her car. She said they also took photographs of her.
Police suspect the gang might have blackmailed others too in similar fashion.
A leading producer Suresh Kumar said his wife Maneka Suresh too had faced a similar experience five years ago but the police failed to act despite lodging a complaint.
State police chief Loknath Behra said a special investigation team has been constituted to probe the incident.
“…We are closing in on the others,” he said.
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said stern action will be taken against the attackers
“It is an unfortunate incident... Police are looking into the case seriously and stern action will be taken against those responsible for it,” he said in Delhi on Sunday.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, however, blamed the state’s poor law and order situation for the incident.
As the shocking news spread film fraternity stood up for the actor.
“Candle lighting is enough. We need action now,” wrote actor Mohanlal in a Facebook post.
Another veteran actor Manju Warrier hailed the victim’s bravery. “Nobody can beat the spirit of a woman, she showed it,” said actor Manju Warrier.
Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) president Innocent, also a Lok Sabha MP, described the incident as a “heinous crime”.
“We have only one thing to say to those who committed this cruel act to our daughter.. sister ---defeat is yours. She will stand undefeated... Always,” he said on Facebook.
Actor Unni Mukundan said he respected the actress’ decision to speak out about her harrowing experience, adding “nothing will change except for the fact that everyone will know that you are one brave girl who chose to fight”.
With agency inputs