Suicide or murder? I guess we will now never know, now that the Sushant Singh Rajput case has been handed over to the caged parrot, otherwise known as the Central Bureau of Investigation.
I have little interest in Bollywood dramas, on screen or off it, but with so much television time spent over it, I find many friends and family members riveted by all the fantastic theories being propounded by not just the reporters but also the family of the late actor.
Celebrity suicides are no strange phenomenon but I have always been of the view that except in cases of young children goaded by parents to top at school exams, no one should be blamed if an adult decides to end his or her life just because they are unable to take adverse circumstances in life.
After the government decided to decriminalise attempt to suicide by counselling rather than prosecuting survivors of such attempts, they should also have put in place detailed clauses on what constitutes criminal conspiracy to abet suicide and not left it hanging when mere breakdown of relationships or other circumstances drive someone to take their own life. Even in cases of parents expecting their children to perform above their capacity, I do not think they are criminal in driving the children to desperation - only ill-advised victims of their own unreasonable ambitions and themselves in need of counselling.
But when it comes to adults, particularly actors and actresses, nothing, not even financial crisis or loss of career prospects, are worth taking one’s own life. Things like depression, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia et al are easily addressed by modern medical science.
But since we are on the subject of Rajput, I am stunned by the amount of misogyny that has been on display against his girlfriend, both by his family and many denizens of the electronic media – she was called a witch by his father, her wearing a white salwar-kameez when she first issued a public statement was dismissed by the family lawyer as an attempt to appear more virtuous than normally presumed vis-à-vis girls living in jeans, her decision to spend a night with him was treated as incontrovertible proof of her being of loose character in an era when live-in relationships have become common and there is no premium on virginity even in India, at least in the big cities and metropolises.
But apart from all the sociological facets to the suicide, what I must remark upon is whether anyone thinks the CBI could investigate the case better than the Mumbai police, who continue to be the best in the country and second only to Scotland Yard.
I think, had Bihar not been headed for an election, no policeman from there who have not even been able to investigate the cases of young girls being violated in a home for the destitute, would have been dispatched to Mumbai to interfere with the Mumbai police.
That move has no constitutional sanction and akin to India sending the CBI to investigate, say, Sridevi's accidental drowning in a bathtub in Dubai and labelling the incident as something it never was. And if every state police were to interfere with the investigation into cases relating to original residents of their state, how could any police force be able to conduct investigations properly in their home state, given that law and order and policing are a state subject?
More preposterous and ridiculous, however, is now the attempt by the Centre to muscle its way into the investigation which convinces me that the witch hunt has less to do with suicide and more to target the Maharashtra government. The BJP has not yet got over how it lost the state government and its leaders have been consistently targeting Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for the past six months. Earlier they thought they could pin him down on the lynching of two sadhus in Palghar but when the mob was revealed to have many BJP members, they ended up with a lot of egg on their faces.
Now they have his son Aaditya Thackeray on target simply because the young leader moved in the exalted circles of the bold and the beautiful. I am glad to see the chief minister backing up his police force and turning down any attempt to point fingers at the cops who should actually have been left to conclude the investigations in their good time.
However, while Aaditya has issued a statement dissociating himself from any of the characters involved in the drama, I would suggest that he take a leaf out of the books of Sharad Pawar and Vilasrao Deshmukh and take those making wild allegations to the cleaners.
Pawar had sued three newspapers in the 1990s for making unsubstantiated allegations against him about association with havala dealers for Rs 100 crore each. When they failed to come up with proof and apologised, never again did anybody target the NCP president in that fashion. Then chief minister Deshmukh followed suit in 2005 when BJP leaders charged him with corruption with no documentation and no one heard them say anything about Deshmukh after he took them to the court.
Aaditya represents a backward constituency in the city and if he does manage to secure damages, every last Rupee could be invested in bettering the lives of his constituents.
It is not enough for the Maharashtra government to threaten to revive another suicide case where the victim had left a note blaming a famous TV anchor for driving him to take his life for diddling him out of Crores of his dues for renovating a studio. That will be seen as vendetta in some circles.
Better by far to ask them to produce proof in the courts and put paid to allegations that are little more than bazaar gossip dressed up as the truth. Memories of Pawar's and Deshmukh's ambush of their detractors are now too distant. It is time the Thackerays prove their own mettle in putting all such gossip mongers in their place.