Splainer

Thursday, January 6 2022


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The woman who was arrested from Uttarakhand’s Rudrapur in the Bulli Bai app case belongs to a poor family and her father is not alive. It seems she got involved in such activities for money.

That’s what the Uttarakhand director-general of police said about the 18-year old woman arrested as a prime suspect in the Bulli Bai case (explained here). There was great outrage on social media. The Mumbai police—which is responsible for her arrest—was more politely disapproving: “We have apprehended these people from different places and some local authorities have given some versions about it, which I feel was not required. They were not aware of the details of the case. Generally, we don’t speak about cases in other states.”

 

Stuff to check out: On the latest episode of the splainer podcast ‘Press Decode’, the splainer team looks at the Bulli Bai app—and the joys of hate-watching ‘Emily in Paris’. Be sure to head over to the IVM website, Spotify or Apple Podcasts to listen to it.

 
Big Story

The rape of a Malayalam actor: A telling case of injustice

The TLDR: This is the story of a young actor who was the victim of a gang rape-for-hire—allegedly ordered by Dileep, one of the most powerful stars of the Malayalam film industry. It has been four years since the incident occured, and there is no sign of justice in sight. Yesterday, the Network of Women in Media and Women In Cinema Collective put out an urgent call asking the media to “give this case the coverage it deserves so that it becomes a prominent part of the public discourse across India, not just in southern India as it is now. Sexual violence anywhere should anger citizens everywhere.” We are doing our part.

 

Trigger warning: This story focused on a case of sexual violence. While there are no graphic descriptions, it may be a difficult read for some.

 

First, here’s what happened

  • On February 17, 2017, the survivor was being driven in her car to a studio.
  • The driver conspired to stage an accident with a tempo. When he stopped the car, three men entered the vehicle. They included one of her former drivers, Pulsar Sunil.
  • She was then assaulted in the moving car—while her driver drove the car in the middle of crowded streets. The men took videos and photographs of the assault.
  • And she was finally dropped at the residence of a film director—who called the police.

 

A conspiracy to rape

Meet Dileep: The reason this case became sensational is the involvement of Dileep—aka Gopalakrishnan Padmanabhan. The powerful veteran actor is often described by fans as “Janapriya Nayakan”—or ‘hero of the masses’. He is considered one of the leading lights of Malayalam cinema, alongside Mohanlal and Mammootty. 

 

The allegation: is that Dileep commissioned the gang rape of the survivor. He blamed her for the collapse of his first marriage to actor Manju Warrier—which ended in divorce in 2015. The reason: The survivor told Warrier about his extramarital affair with another actor, Kavya Madhavan. So Dileep decided to teach the assault victim “a lesson”—and recruited Pulsar Sunil. He offered Sunil a chance to act in films and paid him Rs 15 million (1.5 crore).

 

The arrest: Sunil and six other men were arrested soon after the rape—after being identified by the survivor. But Dileep was soon implicated after a tip off from Sunil’s fellow inmate—and a letter from Sunil demanding money surfaced as evidence. He was arrested in July, and briefly held in custody. But he has since received bail and is still making movies–with the support of the film industry whose most powerful figures have rallied to his cause. His latest movie dropped on December 31.

 

Why this case matters

 
Headlines that matter

PM gets stuck in traffic

In what is being described as a serious security lapse, the Prime Minister and his convoy were stuck on a Punjab highway for 15-20 minutes. The reasons: A last-minute change of plans and a farmer protest. The PM was supposed to fly in a helicopter from Bhatinda airport to attend an event. He changed his mind due to bad weather—and traveled by road where his path was blocked by farmers protesting his visit. In the end, the convoy was forced to turn back—and Modi was unable to attend neither the event nor a planned election rally.


Why this matters: Travel plans for heads of state are meticulously laid out to ensure security—and include contingency plans. The BJP is crying foul—alleging bad faith on the part of the Congress-led Punjab government. Even Modi reportedly made a crack on his way out, telling officials: “Apne CM ko thanks kehna, ki mein Bhatinda airport tak zinda laut paaya.” (Thank your CM that I was able to stay alive till I reached the Bhatinda airport). According to Indian Express, the entire mess was caused by crossed wires and miscommunication. See the scene on the highway below.

 

Kazakhstan spirals into chaos

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has declared a two-week state of emergency as protests over fuel prices turned violent. In Kazakhstan, many citizens have converted their cars to run on LPG—because it is far cheaper than gasoline due to a cap on its price. But then the government lifted the price ceiling, saying it was unsustainable. The result: massive rallies of thousands of people—which forced the police to resort to stun grenades and water cannons. 


Why this matters: Protests are relatively rare in Kazakhstan. And this time they show no signs of abating. Protesters stormed the presidential residence and the mayor’s office, and set both on fire. A Russian-led military alliance plans to dispatch peacekeeping forces to the country after Tokayev asked for help. (Associated Press)

 

UK moves to criminalise ‘breastfeeding voyeurism’

The government has introduced new legislation to punish voyeurs who record images of breastfeeding women without permission. The crime will carry a maximum sentence of two years. The law is the result of a campaign led by a female MP who was photographed while feeding her four-month-old baby daughter on a train in north London. (The Guardian)

 

Madonna’s son is a… famous artist?

‘Rhed’ was known in art circles as a mysterious, up-and-coming artist—widely beloved by celebrities. And his art is listed for up to £24,000. He has now been unmasked as none other than Rocco Ritchie—Madonna’s son with director Guy Ritchie. A revelation that has sparked mixed feelings among critics. Where some declare him “an authentic, pure, and undiluted product of the 21st century,” others say: “These daubs are amateur stuff, vaguely imitating Picasso or Modigliani, that could have been done by a million young people.” Ouch! Check out an example below and decide for yourself. (The Guardian)

 

 
 
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In today’s edition

Sanity Break

  • Bad Seeds: an animated short film about two carnivorous plants

 

Reading Habit

  • Our books editor brings you the Splainer Reading Challenge 2022
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