The tussle between the Mumbai police and the Bihar police on the events leading to the mysterious death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput in Mumbai on July 14 has led the Centre to accept the Bihar government’s plea for handing over the probe in this high-profile case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). This is just as well because rumours and theories have abounded on the death which the Mumbai police had described as ‘suicide’ but which was discounted by the police in Bihar which was the actor’s home state. Evidently, the Mumbai police was under pressure from some quarters to soft pedal investigations into the involvement of some individuals who had a vested interest in Sushant’s end. While the involvement of some people from the film world is suspected, there is also the possibility of a young and very influential politician in the sordid drama that led to Sushant’s demise. It is apparently the fear of the beans being spilled that attempts were being made to prevent the case from going into the hands of the CBI. But the pressure of public outrage over the circumstances of Sushant’s death fuelled by some TV channels was so overpowering that the Central government was forced to act.
With heightened public interest in the case, the CBI needs to rise above all inducements and threats in unveiling the real story. That the Bihar police has also been hot on the case has produced many contradictions between the two versions which must be reconciled or laid bare with evidence. Take the case of Rhea Chakraborty, Sushant’s Bollywood friend who lived in with him and left his house a few days before Sushant was allegedly found hanging from the ceiling of his bedroom. While the Mumbai police seems to clear Rhea, the Bihar cops suspect virtually that she was the centrepiece in the whole drama leading to Sushant’s death. There are contradictions too in the versions of the two police forces in regard to Rhea’s meddling in Sushant’s management of finances and in her siphoning off a sizeable part of Sushant’s finances to her accounts. Another aspect that the CBI investigation would need to focus on is whether there is any link between the purported suicide of Sushant’s aide Disha Salian a few days before his death and his own. There is speculation too on a party which suspectedly had a link to the deaths of Disha and then Sushant and at which there was the claimed presence of a young Maharashtra politician. There are imponderables even on the extent of involvement of Bollywood in the deaths of Disha Salian and Sushant. Did the likes of Karan Johar and Mahesh Bhatt have some role in driving Sushant to commit suicide? Was Sushant a victim of the ‘outsider’ syndrome in so far as Sushant was looked upon as an outsider in Bollywood who needed to be jettisoned? There are questions being raised about the manner in which favouritism runs deep in the film world and the hounding that outsiders have to face in the film business.
While it is true that cut-throat competition and petty jealousies abound in the film world, the CBI investigations must also focus on this aspect to reveal how it actually plays out. The murky goings-on in Bollywood have financial irregularities knit into them which need to be probed thoroughly. Some guidelines need to be framed by the apex court or any relevant court on how police investigators from other states ought to be treated. In the Sushant case, the manner in which the police party from Bihar was treated by the Mumbai police has been adversely commented upon. Going by reports, the head of the Bihar police team was forced into quarantine, preventing him from going ahead with investigations on grounds that he needed to be sheltered from coronavirus is seemingly flawed and has been criticised by the court. All in all, the CBI probe should be swift and conclusive if the reputation of this investigation and probe body is not to be seen as compromised. The truth in the 34-year-old Sushant’s death must come out so that public faith in the CBI is restored.