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Fresh charges levelled against Malayalam actor-producer accused of rape

Source: PTI
April 29, 2022 21:04 IST
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Fresh allegations have emerged against actor-producer Vijay Babu, who has been accused of sexually assaulting an actress, after another woman from the industry on Friday accused him of having misbehaved with her in 2021.

This came to light when the woman described her plight through the Facebook page, Women Against Sexual Harassment.

On Friday, Babu moved the Kerala high court seeking anticipatory bail in the actress rape case.

 

Meanwhile, Women in Cinema Collective, a pro-women outfit in the Malayalam film industry, came down heavily on other film bodies for allegedly maintaining silence on the issue and urged the State government to take steps for the survivor's safety.

Urging the industry associations to break its silence on the matter, the outfit wanted them to suspend the membership of the accused in all film bodies until there is a verdict.

In the fresh allegation, the woman said it was a "one-day incident" and she met Babu in November 2021 for work-related matters.

"We discussed about some professional things and later personal issues came up. He realised that I needed help and offered to help me. One other friend, who was there with us, stepped outside and only we both were there. He was drinking alcohol and offered it to me. I refused. Suddenly, he just lunged to kiss me on my lips, without consent," she said in the Facebook page.

She said she pulled herself away, and maintained a distance.

"I looked into his face, he then asked me "Just one kiss?". I stood up and said no. He started apologising from then and requested me to not tell anyone. I agreed as I was scared. I immediately got out from there casually by making up some silly reasons," she said.

The woman said she decided to bring this up this after reading about the recent incident involving him and an actress.

"So I want to state that I'm here to raise my voice for the rape survivor... She deserves justice. Also, by removing or punishing people like him, myths about the film industry that it is "not safe for women" should be proved wrong for women like me to not be scared to step in," she said.

A woman, who appeared in movies produced by Babu's production house, lodged a complaint with the police on April 22 and detailed through a Facebook post the physical assault and sexual exploitation she had allegedly suffered at the hands of the producer-actor for the past one-and-a-half months.

He has been charged with sexually assaulting an actress and later he disclosed the survivor's identity through a Facebook live session.

The WCC said Babu, in his recent live session, deliberately named the young woman actor, who had lodged a police complaint of rape and physical assault against him several times, by making sure she would be the target of "vicious social media mobs".

"Vijay Babu taking the survivor's name illegally has opened doors for a mass social media attack and shaming of the survivor. We request the cyber cell and the Women's Commission to urgently act. We urge the government to take responsibility for her safety," the outfit said.

The accused, in the live session, twirled his moustache like a "B-grade film villain" and publicly named the young woman actor who had filed the case, WCC said.

Stating that it was "appalled" at the industry's silence, the WCC said it was happening despite the recent judgement of the Kerala high court directing them to implement in letter and spirit Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2013 in the Malayalam film industry.

In his anticipatory bail plea, Babu said the rape case filed against him saying it was an attempt to blackmail him.

"Now, the attempt of the de facto complainant is to blackmail the petitioner by simply filing the complaint alleging that the petitioner forcefully sexually assaulted her," Babu said in his plea.

In his plea, the producer-turned-actor said, "the present trend" was that for the sake of publicity anybody can make sexual allegations against anybody to tarnish the image of a person who is popular.

Meanwhile, Kochi police Commissioner Nagaraju Chakilam said the accused was yet to return to the state.

"We are expecting that he might come and surrender...He has to come back...we have already collected his travel and passport details," he told reporters in Kochi.

He said searches were continuing to collect evidences and the examination of the witnesses and their identification were pending.

The police has already made it clear that "prima facie that is a proved case" and a lookout notice had been issued against the accused who has reportedly left the country soon after the rape case against the actor on April 22 was registered on the basis of the actress' complaint.

Babu, who is untraceable since the police launched the probe, appeared in a Facebook Live session on Tuesday night and claimed innocence, saying he is the "real victim." As the producer, who is also the founder of the production company Friday Film House, disclosed the survivor's name and identity, which is an offence, another case was also filed against him.

The woman, who appeared in movies produced by Vijay Babu's production house, filed a complaint with the police on April 22 and detailed through a Facebook after the physical assault and sexual exploitation she had allegedly suffered at the hands of the producer-actor for the past one-and-a-half months.

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