A case was registered under against popular Malayalam dubbing artist Bhagyalakshmi and two others on Sunday for assaulting a man, who had uploaded derogatory video about women online. The women were charged with non-bailable offences under IPC sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 506 (criminal intimidation), 294b (sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place), 452 ( trespassing after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint) and 392 (robbery), reports said.
Bhagyalakshmi, activist Diya Sana and two others had arrived at Vijay P Nair’s office in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday and poured black oil on him for allegedly uploading a number of derogatory videos on YouTube.
Nair had uploaded a video titled ‘Why do feminists in India, especially Kerala, not wear underwear’ and targetted a number of women, including veteran poet and activist Sugathakumari (86). In the video, he allegedly made ‘defamatory’ comments about several women including Bhagyalakshmi and activists Trupti Desai, Bindu Ammini and Rehana Fathima.
On Saturday, a live video posted on Diya Sana’s Facebook page showed the women at Nair’s office, grabbing at the man, hitting him, verbally abusing him and forcibly taking away his laptop, mobile phone and hard drive and handing them over to the police.
Sana was seen wearing a mask and gloves during the incident, while Bhagyalakshmi was not.
In the video, Diya Sana asks the man to delete the videos from his YouTube channel before grabbing the phone from him to purportedly do it herself.
“What he did is wrong. The women who handled him are also wrong. But which of this is the bigger mistake?” Diya Sana later wrote on her Facebook page.
A day before the incident, Bhagyalakshmi had posted a video in which she exhorted people to not watch Nair’s YouTube videos, saying any engagement with his content online helped the man make money.
She said: “This man had made up all sorts of derogatory stories about people in film industry and about feminists, and posted them on YouTube. He’s been making money off it.”
“He is posting these videos with the confidence that no legal action can be taken against him for videos in which he doesn’t name anyone,” she said.
After the attack on Nair, she told Manorama News on Saturday that it has been a week since they had lodged a complaint against Nair, but there had been no action. “We had no other choice,” she said.
Nair filed a counter complaint against the women.
“He (Nair) filed a complaint on Saturday night saying the woman activists assaulted him and took away his belongings. We have registered a case against them under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code including sections for trespassing, assault, robbery and all, based on his complaint,” police told PTI.
Reacting to the registration of case, Bhagyalakshmi told reporters on Sunday, “I will proudly go to jail for this case. He had made such derogatory statements against the women in general. We had lodged many police complaints but nothing happened.”
The women received a lot of support on social media and from other groups.
While police had initially registered bailable charges against the Nair, the non-bailable offences registered against Bhagyalakshmi and two others sparked widespread criticism.
The Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA) came out in support of Bhagyalakshmi and said strong action should be taken against people like Nair.
The Women in Cinema Collective wrote a statement asking for strong legal action against Nair, saying cyber crime cannot be seen as a personal issue but as a crime against all women. The WCC said it did not support booking the women under non-bailable offences. “Strong criminal action should be taken against the culprit and not against the people who protested against it,” it said.
State Health Minister KK Shailaja, in a press conference said strong action would be taken against people who used vulgar language and abused women.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also said strict legal action would be taken against those who misused media facilities and attacked women. “If the existing legal options are not sufficient for it, bringing out an appropriate law will be considered. Currently, a complaint has been directed for comprehensive investigation and action.”
Pinarayi said the sentiments of the state’s people were with the insulted women. He also, however, requested that everyone should be careful not to take the law into their hands during such situations.
“The government will intervene to get justice for the victims and get the punishment they deserve for abusing women,” he said.
On Monday, the Kerala Hi-tech crime inquiry cell instructed the police to register non-bailable offence cases against Nair for the sexually explicit comments made on his channel against women, The New Indian Express reported.
(With PTI inputs)