Lake Avenue is a quiet leafy street in one of south Kolkata’s more upmarket areas. Number 27 is the easiest building to locate on this street now. It is where 17-year-old Aabesh Dasgupta’s grandmother lives, and where his mother has moved in since the teenager’s sudden death on July 23.
Jhilmil Dasgupta, 40, said she couldn’t bear to continue living in what was her home for 20 years — 21 SR Das road, a stone’s throw from number 27. Before she lost her only son, Jhilmil had lost her husband Swagato Dasgupta, 50, to a heart attack earlier this year.
“Grief has not taken over completely. I have to fight for my child. I am all Aabesh has,” said Jhilmil, convinced that foul play was involved in his death at a party.
Aabesh was in Class XII at Cambridge School in Kolkata, having studied till Class X at St Xavier’s Collegiate School. He wanted to do an MBA. The walls at number 21 are lined with his paintings. And with his father’s movie collection — Satyajit Ray, Wong Kar-Wai, Akira Kurosawa. Swagoto was a film buff and worked as an administrative official with Kolkata police. In his spare time, he would work as chief assistant director to filmmaker Sandeep Ray, son of Satyajit Ray. Swagoto had written and directed a couple of Bengali serials for ETV. “He wanted to make a movie of his own someday. Maybe he would have taken voluntary retirement, or a two-year sabbatical,” said Jhilmil.
The two blows came within six months. “After my husband died, I held on for Aabesh and his future. He wanted to go abroad and study, do an MBA, and we were working on that. Now he has gone too,” she said. “I am not even thinking, there is only darkness. Everything I built over the past 20 years is gone in one fell swoop. People say I’m young and can start afresh but it doesn’t work like that.”
That morning, Aabesh left home at around 10 am, telling his mother he was going to a party. “It was the birthday of a friend of a friend. He left and so did I,’’ said Jhilmil, who teaches interior design to senior students at G D Birla School, and works as a consultant with an interior design firm.
“I called Aabesh around six. He didn’t pick up the phone. I thought since he’s at a party, maybe there are too many kids around or really loud music. I had been feeling low and didn’t go to work that evening,’’ she said.
The birthday was of the daughter of author Amit Chaudhari at Sunny Park. It was in the parking lot of the apartment complex that Aabesh was found lying injured. In a statement, Chaudhari has said he found two of Aabesh’s friends trying to stem the flow of blood from his wounds. The author rushed Aabesh to AMRI Hospital.
“I got a call from one of his friends saying Aabesh has been taken to AMRI,” said Jhilmil. “I reached the hospital. Some of his friends were there, and their parents. I kept asking them what has happened to my son, why have you brought him here, but no one told me anything. Then the doctor came and apologised. He said he couldn’t do anything for Aabesh, that by the time they had brought him he was already dead. The doctor told me he was hit with a sharp object. When the police arrived, they told me it looked like Aabesh had been murdered.”
That night, Jhilmil lodged an FIR under IPC section 302.
Initial reports had been that Aabesh had been stabbed with a broken alcohol bottle but police later issued a statement that he had fallen down trying to climb over a wall and injured himself. On July 28, Vishal Garg, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), said, “Going through the CCTV footage and examining the circumstantial evidence, there appears no foul play or conspiracy involved. The visceral examination reports are still awaited, but investigations so far reveal the death to be accidental.” He agreed these findings weren’t conclusive.
Aabesh died of bleeding from an injury on an armpit. “All his friends have so far made statements saying they saw Aabesh bleeding,” his mother said. “But no one has so far said they actually saw him fall. Do you know, someone had dialed 100 for the police from there. Why would they do that if it Aabesh had just fallen and not just rushed him to the hospital?”
There had been 16 friends at the party. Some had gone to Tollygunge Club and then Princeton Club to buy liquor but been turned away for being minors. They finally bought some at a local wine shop on Rifle Road.
Jhimil hinted at a girlfriend angle. “We used to tease him about not having a girlfriend. Then one day he come home and said he had met a girl he liked,’’ said Jhilmil, convinced that at the party, a fight took place with one of his friends over this girl.
Jhilmil has met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. “I just had one request, to ensure the investigation is not influenced. I asked her if there is a reason why the truth is not coming out. She told me not to worry. She has told the police that whether it’s a murder or an accident, either way they need to prove it.”
Mayor and minister Sovan Chatterjee has put up posts on Facebook saying Aabesh died “a long time ago” and that as soon as “wads of notes were put in a 12-year-old’s hands to party”, or “a Class VII student getting an expensive mobile’’, “there were no birthdays anymore, they only partied’’ and “skimpily dressed girls served the alcohol at these parties”. Governor K N Tripathi has made a statement about children being influenced by western culture, and minister Subrata Mukherjee issued a statement saying parents should be more alert about their children.“No one has a right to tell me how I should or should not raise my child. Let them look after their own children first,” said Jhilmil.
“No one has a right to tell me how I should or should not raise my child. Let them look after their own children first,” said Jhilmil.She said she has very little hope in the investigation and plans to go to court. “I am readying for the fight.”
She said she has very little hope in the investigation and plans to go to court. “I am readying for the fight.”
SINCE THE DEATH
July 23: Aabesh Dasgupta, 17, found lying in the car park at 6 Sunny Park, where he had gone for a party at one of the flats. FIR registered at Ballygunge police station under IPC section 302 on a complaint from his mother Jhilmil.
July 24: Police collect footage from CCTV cameras.
July 25: Special investigation team set up, starts inspecting mobile phones of students at the party.
July 26: Police take statements of 22 people including 14 students at the party.
July 27: Three persons of a wine shop were arrested for selling liquor to minors.
July 28: Police rule out foul play, say death was an accident.
July 29: Aabesh’s mother calls on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seeking justice.
Since July 30: Police summon 10 more people, no fresh revelations.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.