#JusticeforAabesh: A Grieving Mother Demands The Truth
In a traditionally upscale south Kolkata neighbourhood, a bunch of flex posters strung across trees and a five-storey building demanding justice for a 17-year-old teenager now capture every passerby’s attention.
More than the new designer furniture store or eateries that punctuate the street called Lake Avenue, the posters featuring a naive-looking teen’s smiling face and demanding “Justice for Aabesh” are now eye catchers.
Both common people and some top celebrities have hit the street for a fair probe into the death of Aabesh Dasgupta. Facebook is abuzz with the posts demanding justice- at the same time questioning parenting and modern permissive lifestyle- while the hashtag JusticeForAabesh trends on Twitter even now.
Aabesh was found in a pool of blood with multiple injuries on 23 July evening after attending writer Amit Chaudhuri’s daughter’s birthday party in south Kolkata’s Sunny Towers, home to many of the city’s rich and famous and a building named after legendary cricketer Sunil “Sunny” Gavaskar, who owns a flat there.
By the time Aabesh was taken to the hospital by Chauduri, whose daughter’s surprise birthday party he had attended last and was later found bleeding in the car park area, it was too late.
Weeks have passed since the tragedy occurred, triggering a civil society outcry, but in a Lake Avenue apartment Aabesh’s mother Rimjhim Dasgupta still waits clueless, armed only with a resolve to go to any length to know the truth about her son’s last moments.
Dasgupta is now also fighting to clear her son’s and her own reputation after a rather twisted, moralistic social media post went viral blaming the death on “bad parenting” of upper middle class families that gives too much freedom to teenagers who get enough money at a young age to attend parties where “skimpily dressed” girls serve liquor.
“I will go to the end for justice to see the guilty punished. He has been killed and I see a love triangle angle in it,” says Dasgupta, speaking to The Quint, while rubbishing that her son ever went wayward or had too much cash to splurge.
Who’s the Culprit?
Remaining stoic even after losing her son close on the heels of her husband Swagato’s death in February this year from a cardiac arrest, 40-year-old Rimjhim says Aabesh’s friend, son of a wealthy businessman, who took him to the party that day actually left in his chauffeur-driven Audi while Aabesh succumbed to his injuries.
“Can a friend leave another friend to die like that?” she asks. “This is the boy who had introduced him to a girl earlier,” she says.
In a first person account of the events in The Telegraph, Chaudhuri, who first took the boy to hospital almost two hours after he was injured, said “the group (of friends) had splintered before into different groups, and most of the young people there didn’t see what happened to this boy, who was in the playground with his friend and possibly someone else.”
Amit Chaudhuri’s Version
“When I arrived on the scene, I found that two in the group were attending to the boy in the garage. Others were trying to call an ambulance. They had also tried to hail a yellow cab to take him to a hospital, but the cab hadn’t stopped.
“I tried to ascertain this boy’s details in order to contact his parents, but couldn’t, as no one had that information, and the friend who had brought him along had left suddenly in his car.”
“We tried to help a young man none of us knew and feel distressed not to have succeeded in doing this,” writes Chaudhuri, who says the birthday party was not allowed in his apartment owing to a bereavement in the family. According to Rimjhim, Chaudhari did not reached out immediately and was irresponsible.
“He took him to hospital much later,” she says, adding that it was murder coupled with shocking apathy and delay in hospitalising him.
Mother Says It’s Murder
She asks that if indeed there was no foul play involved, then why were the boys and girls present that day continuing to hide. “No one turned up at his funeral,” she says. “We have lodged a case of murder under Section 302 of IPC and we stick to that, though there has not been any conclusive report so far,” she says.
“I have appealed to the Chief Minister (Mamata Banerjee) too and she has assured that justice will be done. The police said interrogation is on. I am prepared to go till the end of the legal system for justice,” Rimjhim, a teacher and interior designer by profession, says.
“I am afraid that the boys and girls were all from very influential and rich families and that can influence the investigation. In the beginning, crucial time was lost before collection of forensic evidence,” says Rimjhim, whose husband was in police administration and in his leisure time would assist filmmaker Sandip Ray.
“I have felt that just because my son died, he is being maligned while those who were with him were not named. Justice should be the same for everyone,” says Rimjhim.
Fight for Justice
While police first called it a murder caused by stabbing that wounded him fatally in the chest and back, they soon changed the version and said it was an accidental death.
“We have recovered broken bottles as evidence,” a police officer had said soon after the tragedy occurred. According to Rimjhim, the case would have been covered up but for the public outcry that forced the police to investigate it.
“They had not anticipated such a big support from civil society. We have, however, stayed away from political parties as we do not want it to take any political colour,” says Rimjhim.
Aabesh’s grandmother Krishna Paul says it is unfortunate that some people are judging them for their lifestyle. “Even a tattoo in my arm is being discussed as a symbol of our unacceptable lifestyle. It is ridiculous. A grandmother can have a tattoo too. They should probe the death and find out who was responsible,” says Paul.
While Aabesh is no more, in the Dasgupta household his presence is now felt more than perhaps when he was alive. In every corner of the room one finds him staring from flex posters and placards made for the long battle the family has now geared up to fight.
“He studied in St. Xavier’s Collegiate School and then shifted to Cambridge School where he was in class XII. He wanted to study BBA and then pursue MBA abroad,” says Rimjhim, fighting tears in the midst of torrential rain outside.
(Sujoy Dhar is a roving writer, a foreign correspondent and Group Editor of news agency IBNS. He can be reached at @sujoydhar)