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Death of Sushant Singh Rajput

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Death of Sushant Singh Rajput
Sushant Singh Rajput (cropped).jpg
Rajput on Dance India Dance Super Moms in 2013
Date14 June 2020 (2020-06-14)
TimeAfternoon
LocationBandra, Mumbai, India
CauseSuicide by hanging[1]
Burial15 June 2020, at the Pawan Hans Crematorium, Vile Parle

On 14 June 2020, Indian actor Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead hanging from the ceiling fan at his home in Bandra, Mumbai, with the cause ruled as suicide.[2] The official postmortem reports concluded that he died of asphyxia due to hanging.[3] The Mumbai Police launched an investigation into the death, which was surrounded by rumours and speculation.

Timeline

A week prior to his suicide, Rajput had googled three items multiple times: Disha Salian, his former manager who had died about a week before him; news reports containing his own name; and information about a mental illness.[4]

On 13 June 2020, the night before his death, Rajput retired to his bedroom after dinner. At around 2 a.m. on Sunday, 14 June he made two phone calls, one to Bollywood actress Rhea Chakraborty and another to television actor Mahesh Shetty. Both calls remained unanswered. Rajput then woke up early that morning.[5] Some time after, he googled information about "schizophrenia", "bipolar disorder" and "painless death".[6]

Two of Rajput's friends were living with him. In the morning of 14 June, he spoke to his sister over the telephone at around 9 a.m. and an hour later he had a glass of juice and his tablets. At around 11:30 a.m., his cook knocked several times on the door of his room, to confirm the menu for the day. He and Rajput's friends received no response. They then called a key-maker to open the door, following which they called Rajput's sister and the police. He was found hanging from the ceiling fan. No suicide note was recovered from the spot.[7]

The Indian Express reported that the Mumbai Police said the actor had shown symptoms of clinical depression and was consulting a psychiatrist.[8] Times Now reported that medical papers and anti-depressant pills were found in his house.[9]

Investigation

The Mumbai Police commenced an investigation, stating that the death was being treated as a suicide.[10] A team of three doctors conducted an autopsy and submitted their provisional postmortem report at Bandra Police Station. "The provisional cause of death," said the Mumbai deputy commissioner of police on 22 June, "is asphyxia due to hanging."[11] The final postmortem report, received on 25 June, confirmed the cause of the death as asphyxia due to hanging and said it was a "clear case of suicide."[12] The report added that no foul play was found.[13] On 27 July, Mumbai Police received the viscera report, which likewise ruled out any foul play.[14]

The police revealed that Rajput was upset with being linked to the death of Disha Salian, his previous manager.[4] Salian had died five days before him, and a case of accidental death was registered.[6] She died after falling from the fourteenth floor of her building.[15] On 3 August, Police Commissioner of Mumbai Param Bir Singh said investigators had found no link between the deaths of Rajput and Salian.[16]

Interrogation of three psychiatrists and one psychotherapist confirmed that Rajput had consulted them and was on medication prescribed by them.[4]

The police also revealed that Rajput had initially tried to hang himself with the belt of a bathrobe, but it could not sustain his weight. Following this, he used a green kurta. His clothes were strewn over the floor of his bedroom; the police concluded that they had fallen out when he had pulled the kurta from his cupboard. Due to a discrepancy between his height and the distance between his bed and the ceiling fan, the police concluded that he had hanged himself in an inclined position. No sign of struggle was found.[17]

On 25 July,[18] Rajput's father, K. K. Singh, filed an FIR at Patna, where he lives, against Rhea Chakraborty and six others, including her family members, for abetment of suicide. He also accused them of wrongful restraint, wrongful confinement, theft, criminal breach of trust, and cheating.[19] He alleged in his complaint that Chakraborty cheated Rajput financially and mentally harassed him.[20] On 28 July, India Today reported that Chakraborty had been booked in the case.[21] In a petition filed at the Supreme Court, Chakraborty claimed she had no role in the actor's death and was falsely implicated by Rajput's father.[22] She also sought transfer of the probe in the FIR to Mumbai, saying that there cannot be an impartial investigation in Bihar.[23] The Enforcement Directorate, which investigates financial crimes, also registered a money laundering case over transactions worth of Rs 15 crore based on the complaint registered by Rajput's father.[24] On 3 August, Mumbai's police commissioner said there was no misappropriation of funds from Rajput's bank accounts and no money had been transferred to Rhea Chakraborty's accounts.[16] On 4 August, Mumbai Police appointed Grant Thornton as the financial forensic auditor in the case.[25] On 6 August, the CBI re-registered the Patna Police FIR accusing Chakraborty and others of wrongdoing, thus taking over the case.[26]

As of 4 August 2020, 56 people had been interviewed by police in the case.[16]

Multiple reports stated that Sushant had hosted a party at his house on 13 June, the night before his death. This was denied by Mumbai Police and his house help, who was interrogated by Bihar Police. Mumbai Police initially reported that the CCTV in Rajput's house was not working,[5] but on 3 Aug said they had assessed CCTV footage that ruled out any party at Rajput's Bandra apartment on 13 June.[16]

Public reactions

Rajput's death was generally perceived as being unexpected and shocking[27] and sparked debates over mental health.[28] Several prominent leaders and actors responded on social media.[29] On Twitter, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Rajput "a bright young actor gone too soon". Former Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli too expressed their shock on Twitter.[30]

A few hours after Rajput’s death, Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam claimed that Rajput had signed seven films after his 2019 box office hit Chhichhore and had lost them all within a span of six months.[31]

On 15 June, Maharashtra Cyber Police tweeted that some pictures of Rajput being circulated online were "disturbing and in bad taste", warning people that posting such pictures on social media would invite legal action.[32]

As of 31 July 2020, at least three fans had reportedly committed copycat suicide, including a 30-year-old television actor[33] and a 13-year-old girl using the same method as Rajput.[34]

Request for CBI probe

On 16 July 2020, Hindustan Times reported that in the wake of Rajput's suicide, "a massive online campaign fuelled by conspiracy theories has been demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) investigation into the matter." Actress Rhea Chakraborty, who "identified herself as Sushant's girlfriend," wrote the Hindustan Times, asked for the aid of Amit Shah, India's Minister of Home Affairs, in launching a CBI probe.[35] Rajput's maternal uncle, alleging that his nephew was murdered, had demanded a CBI probe on the day of the actor's death.[36] Former union minister Subramanian Swamy wrote a letter to PM Modi requesting a CBI probe, which was acknowledged by the PM's office on 25 July.[37]

Bollywood actor Shekhar Suman created a forum called #justiceforSushantforum demanding a CBI probe into the death.[38] He later backed out, stating that silence of Rajput's family had made him "uncomfortable". He further added it is their prerogative and we all should respect that.[39]

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, however, denied a CBI probe was required. "The Mumbai Police is competent enough to handle such cases," he said on 17 July.[40] On 22 July, the Twitter hashtag #Candle4SSR trended with two million tweets from Rajput's fans around the world, demanding a CBI investigation.[41] On 29 July, Home Minister Deshmukh reiterated that the investigation would not be transferred to the CBI.[42]

On 5 August, however, Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India, told the Supreme Court that the executive branch of India's national government had accepted the recommendation by Bihar's state government for a CBI inquiry into Rajput's death.[43] On that basis, officials said, CBI had decided to start the probe.[44] On 8 August, the Maharashtra government told the Supreme Court that the CBI had shown "indecent haste" and should not have registered the case while proceedings were still pending before the court.[45]

Groupism debate

Rajput's death sparked a debate in India about nepotism and bad practices in the Bollywood film industry. A case was registered against Karan Johar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Salman Khan, Ekta Kapoor and four others in the Patna High Court by a lawyer, Sudhir Kumar Ojha, alleging that Sushant had been denied opportunities due to nepotism, leading to his suicide, but the case was later dismissed on 8 July.[46][47]

Soon after, actress and filmmaker Kangana Ranaut and her team started a campaign against rampant nepotism in Bollywood. In an interview with Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, she blamed the "movie mafia" for Rajput's death.[48] She claimed that production houses like Dharma Productions and Yash Raj Films had worked to ensure Rajput's failure and that Rajeev Masand had defamed him publicly.[49]

Following this, Simi Garewal[50] and A. R. Rahman[51] spoke about groupism that they faced in Bollywood. An old video of Kader Khan describing the groupism he faced became popular on social media.[52]

Funeral

Rajput was cremated by his father at Pawan Hans Crematorium, Vile Parle on 15 June.[53] Actors Kriti Sanon, Shraddha Kapoor, Vivek Oberoi, Ranvir Shorey amongst others were present at his funeral proceedings.[54]

References

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