THE SUICIDE of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput a month ago has now become a Maharashtra vs Bihar issue, with both states in the Supreme Court to be heard before any decision is taken on an FIR filed in the matter.
Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi on Friday demanded a CBI probe in the actor’s death, while the Enforcement Directorate registered a money laundering case. Joining the issue, Maharashtra CM attacked the opposition BJP for criticising the Mumbai Police over its probe.
The Mumbai Police has so far recorded statements of more than 40 people in the case, from producer-director Sanjeev Leela Bhansali to film critic Rajeev Masand. Earlier this week, Rajput’s father K K Singh filed an FIR of abetment to suicide against Rajput’s friend and budding TV and film actor Rhea Chakraborty, 28, and her family members.
After Chakraborty, who was dating Rajput, moved the Supreme Court seeking transfer of the case to Mumbai, the Bihar government and Rajput’s father Thursday filed a caveat in the top court seeking to be heard first. On Friday, Maharashtra did the same.
The Enforcement Directorate announced Friday registration of a case of money laundering against Chakraborty and her relatives, reportedly based on the Bihar Police’s FIR. Officials said the FIR showed prima facie siphoning off of “over Rs 15 crore” belonging to Rajput, allegedly by Chakraborty and others, into “bank accounts not known to the deceased actor”. An official said the accused would be called for questioning next week.
The FIR against Chakraborty and six others has been filed under IPC Sections 306 (abetment of suicide), 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 380 (theft in dwelling house), 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating). Cheating falls under the category of offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Singh has alleged that Rs 15 crore in an account held by Rajput had gone missing, while on June 6, less than a week before Rajput was found dead, Chakraborty had came to his place and taken away many of his belongings, including cash, his laptop, ATM card and other important documents. He had also sought to invoke provisions of the Mental Health Care Act, accusing Chakraborty and her family of putting pressure on Rajput, causing him to “crack”.
In a video statement released through her lawyers on Friday, Chakraborty said, “The truth shall prevail”. “I have immense faith in god and the judiciary. I believe that I will get justice. Even though a lot of horrible things are being said about me on the electronic media, I refrain from commenting on the advice of my lawyers as the matter is sub-judice. Satyamev Jayate, the truth shall prevail,” the actor said.
The NDA government in Bihar Friday said it would fight Chakraborty’s plea questioning the state police’s jurisdiction in investigating the case, and that it would be represented in the apex court by former Attorney General of India Mukul Rohatgi. The state government also questioned the fact that the Mumbai Police was yet to file an FIR in the case.
Bihar Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi accused the Mumbai Police of “not cooperating” with the Bihar team that is in the city as part of its probe into the FIR against Chakraborty, and said the CBI should take over the case. The leaders of Modi’s party the BJP, its ally LJP, as well as the opposition party RJD, have all met Rajput’s family and demanded a CBI probe. CM Nitish Kumar, who hasn’t yet spoken on the matter, has also met his family members.
On Friday, JD(U) minister Jai Kumar Singh said, “Our CM will first speak to his Maharashtra counterpart to demand a CBI probe. If it does not work, he can also take up the matter with PM Narendra Modi.”
Speaking to a Marathi news channel Friday, Uddhav Thackeray said, “The Maharashtra and Mumbai police are certainly capable of handling the case and there is no need to hand over the case to the CBI. Otherwise, all the police forces in other states should be dismissed.” He urged anyone who had any information to come forward. “Don’t fall prey to the politics of the BJP.”
The Mumbai Police has retained its Accidental Death Report in the case, and on Friday, an officer said they had received an email from another friend of Rajput’s, Siddharth Pithani, saying Rajput’s family members were pressuring him to give a statement against Chakraborty. “Pithani’s statement has been included in the plea filed by Chakraborty in the Supreme Court.”
The Mumbai Police has maintained that it has so far not found any evidence of foul play or abetment of suicide in Rajput’s case. A senior officer said earlier this week that his account had not shown any large transfers of money.
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