Sushant Drama & Roping In CBI, ED, NCB: Much Ado About ‘Nothing’?

How did a ‘simple’ case of suicide become politicised? Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Julio Ribeiro explains.

Updated
Opinion
4 min read
Image of Sushant Singh Rajput used for representational purposes.
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By all accounts, Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput died by suicide on 14 June 2020. The police had correctly registered an AD (Accidental Death) case – actually, an ‘Unnatural Death’ case.

But what appears to be their anxiety to ‘topple’ the ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ government in Maharashtra, the ruling party at the Centre seems to have ‘picked on the opportunity’ presented by Sushant’s untimely death.

This has been the procedure since time immemorial. Had the investigators not found clues that someone had actively instigated the actor to take his own life, the case would have been closed.

Some days before Sushant died, his former manager, a young woman named Disha Salian, had also died by suicide. The circumstances that made her do this have not been clearly spelt out. There may or may not be some connection between the two suicides. This, however, must be clearly established.

Since Sushant Singh’s body was found hanging from the ceiling fan in his bedroom and since a locksmith had to be called to break open the lock that had been fastened from inside, it appears that only ‘massive falsification’ of the evidence and the post-mortem documents by the CCBI would have been needed to ‘turn’ the suicide into a possible murder.

Sushant Singh Case: Who’s The ‘Real’ Target?

The ‘real target’ of all this hullabaloo appears to be Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Aditya Thackeray. The young man had been catapulted to a full-scale minister in his father’s government before he had cut his milk teeth in politics. He is still in his twenties, and the natural attraction of “the moth for the star” would be keenly watched by his detractors and political opponents.

Sushant’s last known partner, Rhea Chakraborty, stated in an interview to NDTV, that the central government’s investigators had hinted that ‘AU’ on her cell phone memory was ‘Aditya Uddhav’, whereas she had registered her friend Anaya Udhas as AU. By her account, she did not know Aditya Thackeray personally and claimed to have never met him. The picture of a girl with Aditya in a car was certainly not hers, she had said.

The ruling party at the Centre seems to have been ‘very active’ since it noted the extent of the public sympathy for Sushant Singh Rajput.

All sorts of statements and insinuations linking Aditya Thackeray with the death of the deceased actor are making the rounds. Aditya himself admits to have been acquainted with Sushant but the ‘friendship’ appears to have been cursory and not of the type that would have a bearing on the actor’s life or major decisions taken by him.

Sushant Singh Case: Should CBI Have Been Roped In?

The ruling government at the Centre has brought in reinforcements to sharpen its onslaught on the Maharashtra state government. The ED (Enforcement Directorate) had started an inquiry into the apparent ‘money laundering’ of Sushant’s earnings by Rhea and her family and personal staff. When that did not get the desired results they fell back on the CBI which had been cleared (wrongly, in my opinion) by the Supreme Court to take over the investigation of an offence of abetment of suicide registered by the Bihar police on the complaint of Sushant’s father.

There is nothing irregular in the Bihar police recording an FIR for a crime allegedly committed in Mumbai, but a parallel investigation being carried out of an offence purportedly committed in the jurisdiction of another state is unheard of.

The Bihar Police should have registered an FIR with a ‘zero’ number and transferred it to the Mumbai police for disposal. This was always the procedure when a cognisable offence was first reported to a police station in whose jurisdiction the offence was not committed. The Court should have insisted on this time-tested procedure instead of sending it to the CBI which seems to have been ‘waiting in the wings’ for the signal to get fully involved.

Even that ‘ploy’ does not seem to have worked. So, another Home Ministry unit, the NCB (Narcotics Control Bureau), has now been roped in to seemingly put as much pressure on Rhea Chakraborty to capitulate.

The Rajput ‘Connection’ & Bihar Elections 2020

The NCB is supposed to uncover real big cases of inter-state supply of drugs. It is not meant to dabble in individual cases of use of drugs, as it is attempting to do in this case.

The Sushant Singh Rajput case has taken up the time and energy of the Mumbai Police, the Bihar Police, the ED, the CBI, and now the NCB. What seems to be a ‘love affair gone awry’ is being given undue importance by the ruling party at the Centre to ‘seize an opportunity’. And don’t forget the upcoming elections in Bihar. The Rajput community is small – but powerful and influential.

(The writer, a retired IPS officer, was Mumbai Police Commissioner, DGP Gujarat and DGP Punjab, and is a former Indian ambassador to Romania. This is an opinion piece. The views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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