FPJ edit: Need to unmask vested interests in Sushant's case

It is truly unfortunate how the country’s electronic media has in general stooped low in the coverage of film actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s tragic death, though it must be given due credit for exposing the shoddy work that Mumbai Police had done in the initial stages. Some channels are brazenly on the side of Sushant’s live-in partner of a few months, Rhea Chakraborty, while some others are going out of their way in gunning for her, her family and associates. Leave aside comments, even news is being interpreted to suit either side.

What has exacerbated the problem is the advent of the drugs angle in the investigation, with Rhea, her brother Showik and her father being investigated for possession of narcotic drugs and their use. There are imputations that Rhea was administering drugs to Sushant without his knowledge, with the other side claiming that he was well aware and was, to a point, being led knowingly on that path without knowing the extent and gravity of it all. There are claims and counter-claims on the financials of Sushant Singh Rajput’s business. It all boils down to a macabre drama that is still unfolding. A never-say-die cine actress, Kangana Ranaut, has stepped into the drama by her claim in an interview with a channel that most cinema A-listers indulge in narcotic drugs clandestinely.

While the CBI investigation into the Sushant case is on, the enforcement directorate and the Narcotics Control Bureau are doing their own bit and Mumbai Police, supported by the Maharashtra government, is chipping in with its own slant after it was accused of dragging its feet in the initial stages. The ambit of the investigation has widened, with the entry of the drugs angle and various vested interests are jumping into the fray. With assembly elections in Bihar -- to which Sushant belonged and where his next of kin are based -- the state is on an overdrive even though both Mumbai as well as Bihar Police were virtually divested of responsibility after the CBI, on direction of Supreme Court, took over the entire investigation into the case. It all adds up to a super-confusing picture.

Since there is heightened public interest in the case and there is strong suspicion that it is not a simple case of suicide but could well be murder, the case has assumed great significance. The fact that the post-mortem report did not have the time of death has added to suspicion. It is therefore vital that the CBI gets to the root of the tragedy, the real villains are unmasked, be they from the tinsel world or from politics or from the drug mafia or from all of these.

The drugs connection with Bollywood also needs to be bared, particularly because gullible youngsters fall prey to it. The media organisations, on their part, must introspect on the limits to going after viewership or TRP ratings. Police reforms too are direly needed, so that the politician-police-drug world nexus is not allowed to play havoc with society. That the thriving narcotic drug trade draws on hidden politician support is no secret. Narcotic drugs are indeed eating into the vitals of our economy and into the health of people across all spectrums. It goes without saying that strong measures would be required to track and mete out exemplary punishment to drug lords and their patrons. The Centre would need to step in and bring state governments to heel.

Kangana Ranaut may have exaggerated the extent of the problem of drugs by claiming that 99 per cent of A-listers in the film world took drugs but there is no getting away from the basic truth that she unravelled---of the way drugs are flowing in the tinsel world with impunity and the deep-rooted nexus involving vested interests. The punishment for peddling and consumption of narcotic substances needs to be enhanced, for which the necessary legislation must be looked at. It would be important for the judiciary to see that such cases are handled with alacrity. There indeed are lessons to be learnt from the Sushant case and the government and society at large would ignore these at their own peril. The Sushant Singh Rajput case must indeed be the trigger to correct the wrongs in the police force as well. But the first priority has to be to ensure fairness in trial.

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