Malayalam actor Maala Parvathi on Monday resigned from the internal complaints committee of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists to protest the organisation’s inaction against actor Vijay Babu, who has been accused of rape, reported PTI.
At a press conference, Parvathi said the actors’ body had issued a statement on Sunday, but did not take any disciplinary action.
“AMMA’s [Association of Malayalam Movie Artists] statement does not look like disciplinary action and as an ICC [internal complaints committee ] member, I cannot accept it,” she told reporters. “Hence, I have given my resignation from ICC.”
Babu, who is an executive member of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists, had told the body in a letter that he wanted to stay away from the organisation. In response, the actors’ body accepted Babu’s stand.
The rape case against Babu was registered on a complaint filed by another actor on April 22. She has alleged that Babu sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions on the pretext of offering roles in films.
Babu was initially charged under the Indian Penal Code Sections 376 (rape), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt).
But after the actor went live on his Facebook page on April 27 and revealed the name of the complainant, he was booked in another case. Revealing the identity of a woman who has been raped or has levelled the allegations is punishable under Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code.
“Although the investigation in the rape case is progressing, it is clear that he [Babu] has committed a crime by revealing the identity of the victim,” Parvathi told The Hindu. “We all have seen it. But, we did not expect the organisation to soft-peddle the issue and get a letter from someone who is absconding.”
Parvathi said that the internal committee was legally obliged to take action in rape and sexual harassment cases.
“There is a lot of difference between AMMA asking him to step down and him deciding to stay away,” she told The Hindu.
Parvathi told reporters that the message given by the actors’ body by not taking action against Babu was not a right one, reported The Indian Express.
“ICC is an autonomous body,” she said. “It’s not under the executive committee. It is difficult to accept the press release by AMMA as a member of ICC.”
Parvathi added that due to the inaction of the actors’ body, internal complaints committee chairperson Shwetha Menon and another member Kukku Parameshwaran might resign also from their panel.
In a statement released on social media, the complainant had alleged she was physically and sexually assaulted by Babu between March and April.
“I have known him [Babu] for a few years in the industry and had worked together with him for a movie,” the actor wrote. “Through this time, he gained my trust by being friendly and advising me as I was a newcomer in the film industry with no proper guidance. He behaved like my saviour for my personal and professional problems but under the guise has sexually exploited me.”
The actor had said she was afraid to speak about the alleged assault due to Babu’s influence in the industry.
“Each time I tried to run away from this trauma, he would come after me with false promises of marriage,” she added. “I was under his control and was scared to speak up because of the clout, influence and power he wielded in the film industry.”
Meanwhile, Babu said that he had known the woman since 2018 and had given her a role in one of his films after an audition.
“She sent several messages to me saying that she was suffering from depression,” he said. “I have around 400 screenshots of those messages. I haven’t sent any messages to that woman for the last one-and-a-half years.”
Babu has moved the Kerala High Court seeking anticipatory bail.