About a year since the actor’s body was found hanging in his Mumbai apartment, the Sushant Singh Rajput case continues to fuel debate and hog headlines. The latest development is the arrest of his flatmate in the narcotics case that cropped up alongside the investigation into the death of the Kai Po Che! and MS Dhoni: The Untold Story actor.
Investigation into the death
In a letter to parliamentarian Subramanian Swamy sent by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) at the end of last year, the probe agency said it was looking at all angles in the case and that no possibility had been ruled out. “
“The CBI is conducting investigation in a thorough and professional manner using latest scientific techniques. All aspects are being looked at and no aspect has been ruled out as on date," CBI responded after BJP leader Swamy wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) seeking information about the status of the probe into the actor’s death.
Earlier, in October 2020, a medical board of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) had said Sushant Singh’s death was “a case of hanging and death by suicide", ruling out murder.
Months after the actor’s death came to light on June 14 in Mumbai, the case was caught in a web of claims and accusations with a narcotics angle, too, getting added to it. With the waters appearing increasingly muddied, the then Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had said CBI should reveal if it was a case of suicide or murder.
“The people of Maharashtra and the country are eagerly waiting for the CBI’s report on its investigation… I request the CBI to reveal whether it was a suicide or murder," Deshmukh had said.
Based on its initial investigation into the case, Mumbai Police had concluded that Sushant Singh’s death was a case of suicide. However, the actor’s father KK Singh had filed an FIR in Bihar against Sushant Singh’s girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty and her family members for abetting his son’s suicide.
With Bihar government calling for a CBI probe in the matter, the case eventually was transferred to the central agency even though Mumbai police was opposed to any such move. Probing the abetment angle, the central agency has reportedly named Rhea, her father Indrajit Chakraborty, mother Sandhya Chakraborty, brother Showik Chakraborty, Sushant’s house manager Samuel Miranda, Shruti Modi and unknown others in its FIR. Among the Indian Penal Code sections mentioned are abetment of suicide, criminal conspiracy, wrongful restraint/confinement, theft, criminal breach of trust, cheating.
The probe into the death case has seen sleuths question the who’s who of Bollywood as talk of mental health issues gave way to speculation that the dynamics of how Bollywood worked and its networks of favour and patronage were behind the actor taking the extreme step.
Earlier, Mumbai police had recorded the statements of, among others, Bollywood heavyweights like Yash Raj Films boss Aditya Chopra and filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt as part of their investigation. A top official of Karna Johar’s Dharma Productions was also questioned.
A twist initially was also added by former Maharashtra CM Narayan Rane when he alleged that Sushant Singh and his former manager Disha Salian were “murdered". With accusations flying thick and fast, Maharashtra Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray, the son of the state’s CM Uddhav Thackeray, said he was being made a target of “mucky politics" in the matter.
Delving into the narcotics angle
With Sushant Singh’s father having claimed there was a financial motive in the alleged crime, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), too, opened inquiries and had soon pointed to a narcotics angle. On the other hand, in July last year, ED filed a case of money laundering over transactions worth Rs 15 crore in the case.
But it is the narcotics angle that has seen big names of Bollywood being dragged into the case with several arrests having been effected, including of Rhe and her brother Showick, both of whom are out on bail in the matter.
The drug angle in the cases has seen the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) having summoned Bollywood actors Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan, Shraddha Kapoor and Rakul Preeet Singh for questioning. The arrest of Siddharth Pithani, the latest in the high-profile case, is also related to the NCB investigation. Total arrests in the case now stands reportedly at 35.
As part of the inquiry into the drugs angle, NCB has raided the Bandra home of Arjun Rampal and summoned him for investigations. Filmmaker Firoz Nadiadwala, too, has recorded his statement with the agency. The NCB inquiry into the drug use also led to the arrest of comedienne Bharti Singh and her husband Harsh Limbachiya. The couple were later released on bail.