Saturday, July 15, 2017

ACTOR DILEEP: When the Mob Dictates the Punishment

Events like what has transpired in the previous few weeks related to the arrest of Actor Dileep used to be rare in Kerala society about a couple of decades ago. With the growth in visual media and the arrival of digital media, the news has metamorphosed into a show. If it’s a show, there must be a director. Who is the direction of this grand show?

The police have taken actor Dileep to various places for evidence collection. Various media reported that mobs have chased the crew with angry slogans. Perhaps, this is the bottom end of the mountain of showbiz looks like. It’s a deep bottom filled with dark irony.

The value of any actor in Malayalam cinema is based on the number people who cheer for him or her. This is the same criteria for much of Indian cinema. The irony is that the same number of people make a mob that pursue someone, whatever the reason is.

When a mob dictates punishment, the potential to postpone justice for the given culture increases. We have seen the same in Northern states where mobs kill individuals in the name of caste, keeping beef, or stealing money. We are a republic, a civilised society, with our very own judicial system. When a mob conceives the right to deliver punishment, the system breaks down.

Actor Dileep is accused of conspiring to assault and rape an actor. Let the judiciary decide what punishment it thinks relevant this man is to be delivered to. Let the trials happen.

A group of people seems to win any argument in Kerala. Various groups have wiped out many murders, political or apolitical. This must change.

Crimes are abominable. Every crime is. The system must be able to prevent each of these crimes. If the system fails to prevent crimes from happening, if the system fails to instil in the subjects of a state the security and confidence it deserves, then people will rise up and take the necessary measures to prevent future crimes by committing more crimes. They will also take revenge against crimes that were left unchecked in the past.

The mob eruption in the actor assault case has a historicity. The culture has a history of many such cases where women were assaulted and the culprits remained either unpunished or found ways to dilute the punishment by playing the judiciary. For example, the Soumya murder case.

When the society fails to win the trust of its subjects, the culture rises up against the social system. One of the many reasons for the presence of these large mobs in the actor issue is due to such a failure of the society. Mob justice is not a solution. It’s a problem.

When a woman is assaulted, we must take part actively in relocating our priorities through bringing the discussion to the forefront of the society. However, a group of people, under a flag or a label, should not be lead to demolish properties or kill other people in the name of justice. We cannot all be criminals. Criminals should be punished. But by punishing them, we cannot afford to lose our sense of justice. That would bring total disaster to the thin line that separates justice and injustice.   

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