Mumbai, June 14 : Almost like an unending daily soap, the so-called 'mystery over the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput continues, as it remains unsolved a year after he was found dead in his Mumbai home.
On June 14, 2020, at the height of pandemic induced lockdown, Sushant, 34, the man who moved audiences with movies like "M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story" (2016), "Kedarnath" (2018) and "Chhichhore" (2019), was allegedly discovered hanging from a ceiling fan at his rented home in Mont Blanc Apartments, triggering one of the biggest controversies in Bollywood in recent years.
Soon, it erupted into a political dogfight involving the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party in Maharashtra, plus the then poll-bound Bihar regime and the Centre.
Multiple probe agencies like Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED), and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), jumped into the cauldron that reeked of a riveting Bollywood potboiler -- intrigues, oodles of love, girlfriends, 'dhokha' (deceit), drugs, hints of lesbianism, alleged big money scam, nefarious links, et al.
A year later, the social media is overflowing with fan memories, obits, tributes and demands for justice, as the ruling MVA allies Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress leaders slam the CBI and the Centre.
Shiv Sena Spokesperson and MP Priyanka Chaturvedi said the Sushant episode was not about a probe into what went wrong, but was more about "hounding the (MVA) government, casting aspersions, launching a smear campaign" as a lot of stories have turned out to be fake.
NCP National Spokespserson and Minister Nawab Malik termed it as "a conspiracy hatched" to discredit the Maharashtra government, and demanded that if Sushant did not commit suicide, then the CBI should reveal who is his killer.
"It has been 310 days since the CBI started probing and 250 days since an AIIMS panel ruled out murder. When will the agency declare the final conclusion? Why has CBI kept the lid on it? CBI is under immense pressure from its political bosses," said Congress State Spokesperson Sachin Sawant.
"After a year, nobody knows what happened to the CBI probe. This was not for justice to Sushant, but to target the government on an issue which was clearly an open-and-shut case," said Chaturvedi sharply.
"The Mumbai Police was investigating Sushant's suicide case, but for political reasons, the Bihar government lodged the case and handed it over to the CBI. Now, the CBI should reveal who killed him," Malik said.
Sawant added: "The BJP government at the Centre is using CBI, ED, NIA as political weapons to target and defame the MVA, these agencies are no more independent -- but truth always prevails." The Bandra police had lodged an accidental death report in the case, but after the first information report registered by Sushant's father, Krishna Kishore Singh in Patna, the Bihar government sought a CBI probe, which was ordered by the Supreme Court.
On August 19, 2020, the CBI formally took over the case investigation, then the ED entered to probe the financial angles, followed by the NCB to unravel the drugs angle.
Sushant's family squarely blamed his live-in partner and actress Rhea Chakraborty, her brother Showik and other friends or aides, leading to the arrest of around 33 persons by the NCB.
As the CBI-ED probes seem to have faded in the background, the NCB marched on relentlessly, ostensibly to "uproot the drugs citadel" in Mumbai, especially Bollywood and many of its high-profile players.
The CBI recorded statements of Sushant's family members and other witnesses, while Rhea contended that the late actor used to take drugs and was being treated for certain mental health issues.
Revelling in the fresh exposes virtually daily, like a TV soap, the BJP state leaders spared no opportunity to take jabs at Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his son and Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray.
Later, in the Bihar elections, Sushant's death proved to be a political windfall and AIIMS, New Delhi, ruled out any foul play, concurring that he died by hanging.
Now, the ball is in the CBI court to draw the curtains for the final word on Sushant's end.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: email@example.com)
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-- The story has been published from a wire feed without any modifications to the text