Dil Bechara: A year later, neither CBI, ED nor NCB 'knows' what happened

It’s a year since 34-year-old Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in his rented Bandra apartment which saw a massive investigation being launched with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Enforcement Directorate (ED), and the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) stepping in to probe the cause of his death.

But none of the agencies have been able to ascertain the cause of his death, minus the Mumbai police which termed it as a case of suicide in its initial probe. Rajput’s death was not the only thing to be probed, aspects such as alleged misuse or diversion of his money by his estranged girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty, and her family members, and Rajput’s tryst with marijuana which agencies claimed was aided by his girlfriend and others was also being probed.

According to Mumbai police, the incident had come to light at around 12.30 pm on June 14, 2020, when Rajput's house help noticed that he had been in his bedroom for a long time. At that time, Rajput was staying in his apartment with his friend Siddharth Pithani, two cooks and a house help.

Initial inquiries with those present at the place revealed that Rajput had excused himself after breakfast and had gone to his bedroom. Around 12.30 pm, his servant found that he had locked himself inside. The door was broken down and Rajput was found dead. His friend had then called up the police control room and had informed about the incident. The Bandra police had conducted a panchnama of the spot and had registered an accidental death (ADR) case into the matter.

The police who had kept its investigations open had probed both personal and professional angle into Rajput's death. The police had made inquiries with several Bollywood personalities and film producers including Mahesh Bhatt and Sanjay Leela Bhansali to ascertain the possible reason which could have drove the actor to take such an extreme step.

Meanwhile, Rajput's father, KK Singh, lodged a complaint with the Patna police on July 25, 2020 naming Rajput's friend and actor Rhea Chakraborty, her family members and others. In the FIR registered on July 28, 2020, he had made accusations against Rhea and had also reported siphoning money from Rajput's bank account, a charge which is yet to be proved.

A case was registered against six persons including Rhea and her family members under sections 341 (Wrongful Restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 380 (theft), 406 (breach of trust), 420 (cheating) and 306 (abetment to suicide) of the Indian Penal Code.

While Mumbai police had already registered an ADR and were probing reasons leading to Rajput's death, a team from Patna police later landed in Mumbai and started making inquiries into the FIR registered by them. At one point of time, both Mumbai and Patna police were making inquiries into the same incident.

Rajput's death case gets transferred to CBI. What has CBI done so far?

The case in which Patna police had filed an FIR was finally transferred to the CBI in August 2020. The CBI officials also carried out a simulation exercise to find out what exactly happened at Rajput's home on June 14. Their investigating team visited the place of the incident several times to get a better idea of the circumstances related to his death. A team of experts from Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), New Delhi had also visited and examined the place of the incident.

The CBI team had questioned Rajput's flatmate Siddharth Pithani, domestic help Deepesh Sawant, cook Neeraj Singh, Rhea Chakraborty among others. "Some investigations are complex in nature and hence they take time. Investigations into Sushant Singh Rajput's death case is still on," said a CBI official.

Speaking to FPJ, KK Singh’s lawyer Vikas Singh said, "The agency should not have taken such a long time to come to a conclusion, but if it is taking time then they (CBI) must be wanting something very very concrete. The CBI would not be wanting to probe the case in a hurry and must be trying to get something substantial, so let's keep trust in them for the time being. The case is indeed complex as there were no eyewitnesses, but if those who were present at home were put through custodial interrogation then it would have helped."

How did Enforcement Directorate (ED) came into the picture? What has ED probe revealed so far?

In July, the Enforcement Directorate also filed a money laundering case in connection with the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput. The case was filed on the basis of an FIR filed by the Patna police. In the Patna police FIR, Rajput's father KK Singh had made accusations of siphoning money from Rajput's bank account. Singh had alleged that Rs 15 crore was withdrawn or transferred from Rajput's bank account.

The ED initiated a probe into allegations of alleged mishandling of Rajput’s money and his bank accounts. The agency was also probing if anyone used Rajput’s income for money laundering and creating illegal assets. The ED probe revealed that a large amount of money from Rajput's account was used to pay taxes. The ED also probed details of the financial transactions of Vividrage Rhealityx, in which Rhea is a director, and Front India For World, in which her brother Showik is a director.

During their probe, the ED had recorded statements of Rhea, Showik, father Indrajit, Rajput's Chartered Accountant Sandeep Sridhar, House Manager Samuel Miranda, flatmate Siddharth Pithani, Rhea's CA Ritesh Shah, and Rajput's sister Meetu Singh and father KK Singh. The ED officials had also questioned Jaya Saha, a celebrity talent manager who had earlier handled Rajput's account.

ED probe reveals drug angle into Rajput's case and NCB begins their probe

In August last year, the Enforcement Directorate had retrieved deleted WhatsApp data from actress Rhea Chakraborty's phone and had come across some information where she was in touch with some people including late actor Sushant Singh Rajput's talent manager Jaya Saha and Rajput's ex-business manager Shruti Modi and they were discussing drugs.

The ED had shared the details with the NCB after which the agency had registered two separate offences. While in one case, the NCB began probing drugs having been supplied to Rajput, in the other case, the agency began probing Bollywood drug nexus, which is being probed by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Delhi NCB.

"After ED had shared drugs-related chat with us, this resulted in registering of two different offences. We then got hold of persons who were found in the trafficking of drugs and were also involved in Rajput's case. This is how we got the entire chain of people involved in the case. In Rajput's case we have seized around 7 kilograms of drugs and cash of around Rs 35 lakh," said an NCB official, requesting anonymity.

In September, the NCB had arrested Rhea and Showik in connection with the case in which Rajput was being supplied drugs. The agency has so far arrested 35 persons in the said case. Speaking about Rhea's role in the case, the official said, "Rhea is charged with illicit financing, procurement and conspiracy."

During the questioning of Jaya Saha, the agency had come across names of few Bollywood and television celebrities, which the agency alleged were communicating about drugs. On analysing Saha's phone data records NCB officials came across a WhasApp group in which actress Deepika Padukone was the administrator and also had Saha and Padukone's manager Karishma Prakash as members. Both Saha and Prakash are associated with KWAN talent management company, officials said.

Prakash during her six-hour questioning on September 25 had stated that the members of the WhatsApp group were discussing doob, which was a rolled tobacco cigarette. In September, NCB officials also made enquiries with actresses Deepika Padukone, Rakul Preet Singh, Sara Ali Khan and Shraddha Kapoor in connection with a drugs probe.

Padukone was examined in case no 15/20, while Khan and Kapoor were examined in both cases (15/20 - case related to Bollywood drugs nexus and 16/20 - case related to drugs been supplied to Rajput)

Rajput's flatmate Siddharth Pithani was the latest to be arrested in the case last month. In November last year, NCB officials had also made inquiries with actor Arjun Rampal. Both Rampal and his girlfriend Gabriella Demetriades were issued summons by the NCB to join the investigation then.

On November 9, NCB had conducted a search at Capri Heights in Bandra, where Rampal stays. The probe team has also seized some electronic gadgets for analysis and some medicines which required prescription. Rampal had then provided a prescription to the agency.

In October, Agisialos Demetriades, brother of Gabriella was arrested by the NCB in a drug case. The NCB had then seized a small quantity of Hashish and Alprazolam tablets, which are both banned narcotic drugs, from him. Later, Demetriades was arrested in another case involving a Nigerian national Omega Godwin, who was arrested by the NCB on charges of supplying cocaine.

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