While the police prima facie found it to be a case of suicide, his father suspects murder, based on a mysterious text message he got from Nishank's phone on the day of his death.
A WhatsApp message from Nishank's phone to his father Umashankar Rathore at 5:44 pm on Sunday read, "Rathore sahab bahut bahadur tha aapka beta gustaakh-e-nabi ki ik saja, sar tan se juda saare hindoo kaayaro ko bata dena nabi se gustaakhi nahi (Your son was very brave Rathore Sahab. The only punishment for insulting the Prophet is beheading. Tell every Hindu coward, no insult to the Prophet). An Instagram story posted in the minutes leading up to his death from his account with the same message sparked further suspicion.
Nishank's father Umashankar, who had no idea about the incident when he received the text, frantically called his daughters who had by then seen the Instagram story and were trying to reach out to their brother.
A few hours later, the family got the information circulated by the local police about the recovered dead body and they rushed to the spot. A student of BTech in Computer Science at the Oriental College of Bhopal, Nishank hailed from Seoni-Malwa city in the Narmadapuram district.
Here's what we know about the case so far.
'No One Saw Him Chasing'
Nishank had shifted from his college hostel to his friend Raj Raghuvanshi's flat in Bhopal earlier in July this year. He had told his father that he would find a room on rent for himself in a few days.
Raisen SP Vikas Kumar Shahwal told The Quint that the investigation so far has revealed that Nishank had left Raj's house on Sunday afternoon, saying that he was going to meet his sister on his two-wheeler.
“Based on the CCTV footage, no one is seen chasing or driving away Nishank. The cause of death, according to the post-mortem, has been found to be caused by the train. There were no marks on the upper body.”Vikas Kumar Shahwal, SP, Raisen
Talking to The Quint, Raj confirmed, "Nishank said that he was going to meet his sister. And he had mentioned that he will be meeting her in our earlier conversations, too. He left in the afternoon."
Shahwal further mentioned that Nishank, after leaving from Bhopal, refuelled his two-wheeler at a petrol pump barely 6 km from the place where his body was found near Barkhedi area in Raisen district.
Home Minister Narottam Mishra, too, averred that the aspect of suicide is coming to the fore in the police investigation. Mishra took cognisance of the matter after the screenshots of WhatsApp messages sent to Nishank's father which mentioned 'punishment over demeaning of the Prophet' came to light.
"Prima facie, Nishank's death seems to be suicide. The cause of death is ring-cutting resulting from the train overrunning on him. However, a special investigation team (SIT) under the Raisen police has been formed to investigate the matter."Narottam Mishra
Mysterious WhatsApp Message to Father Being Probed, Probe Suggests He Had Monetary Issues
However, the WhatsApp message and the Instagram post didn't fit into the picture as per the family.
Umashankar Rathore – struggling to find words after the loss of his son – said:
"I received an absurd text at 5:44 PM. I instantly called my daughters and told them about the text. My daughters said that they saw a similar text with a photo on Nishank's social media…. He couldn't have committed suicide. He was not that kind of a boy."
Even as the police is probing the mysterious WhatsApp and Instagram messages, they said Nishank had never posted anything religiously antagonising.
They had recovered his mobile phone from the place of incident.
His friend Raj, too, told The Quint that Nishank never discussed or debated about religion.
He further added that Nishank was a jolly person, and he didn't raise any alarm when he left on the day of his death.
"In the evening, one of our common friends saw a post on his Instagram and messaged him. He got a reply from Nishank's account that your friend had been martyred. Later, we got to know about his death."Raj Raghuvanshi
Raj, however, mentioned that Nishank had borrowed money from a few people and was involved in transactions of share market.
"Nishank had an interest in the share market. He invested in them, too. He always wanted to make a career in trading. He had borrowed money from a few friends, but he didn't seem stressed about the money."Raj Raghuvanshi
Confirming the monetary aspect, Amrit Singh Meena, ASP Raisen who is also heading the SIT constituted to probe the matter, told The Quint, "Prima facie no evidence suggests anyone's presence in the hours of Nishank's death. We are probing the message sent to father, and the mobile along with the laptop recovered from his home."
The ASP further mentioned that they have found that Nishank had taken money on the pretext of paying his college fees from both his father and his sisters – but he was not attending college for the last one and half months.