Ever since news of Balika Vadhu actress Pratyusha Banerjee’s death broke on Friday, 1 April, it has been the subject of intense speculation.
With allegations flying fast and thick — about everything from Pratyusha suffering violence and abuse at the hands of her boyfriend Rahul Raj Singh, to being depressed due to financial troubles, and at loggerheads with her parents, that the 24-year-old actress was two months pregnant — here’s a look at what is known about the case:
Sometime in the afternoon-early evening hours of Friday, 1 April, Pratyusha Banerjee died.
Sunil Mukhya, who was employed as a cook at Pratyusha’s neighbour’s house saw Rahul Raj outside the flat with a keymaker; Rahul told Mukhya that Pratyusha wasn’t opening the door. Mukhya then offered to enter the flat through the neighbouring balcony. He has told police that when he entered the flat, he saw the actress hanging from the ceiling fan. He then opened the door to the flat, letting Rahul in, and then helped the latter rush Pratyusha to the hospital.
Over Saturday and Sunday, 2-3 April, the police questioned Rahul Raj Singh, although they said that it was too early to suspect any foul play in Pratyusha’s death. On Saturday evening, Pratyusha’s last rites were carried out at the Oshiwara crematorium. Reports state that she was “dressed like a bride” for her cremation. Colleagues from the TV industry attended the funeral.
By Sunday evening, Rahul complained of chest pain, and was hospitalised. His lawyer Neeraj Gupta told the press that the actor-producer was in a “very fragile” condition and has been traumatised by Pratyusha’s death. In the meantime, police had carried out a search of the fat he shared with Pratyusha in Malad, and in which the actress’ body had been found. They reported finding a large quantity of medicines, alcohol and cigarette stubs, adding that doctors are helping determine what the medications were for, and whether or not they were prescribed to Pratyusha for depression.
Over Monday, 4 April, several members of the TV industry came forward with claims that Rahul was physically violent with Pratyusha, that he had duped several women of their money on the pretext of producing films, that he had hidden his status as a divorcee from Pratyusha. Lawyer Falguni Brahmabhatt submitted a list of names of 10 of Pratyusha’s colleagues to the police, who wished to share information on the actress’ death with the authorities.
On Tuesday, 5 April, a prayer meet was held for Pratyusha in Mumbai, after which her parents Soma and Shankar Banerjee spoke to the media. Soma said that until January of this year, she lived with her daughter, but moved back to their hometown Jamshedpur since Rahul and Pratyusha had decided to live together. Shankar Banerjee has said that they had some indications of trouble in their daughter’s relationship, but didn’t guess the full extent of it. On the basis of a fresh statement given by Soma Banerjee, the police booked Rahul Raj for abetment of suicide, assault and intimidation under sections 306, 323 and 506 of the IPC.
Wednesday, 6 April, Rahul applied for anticipatory bail. However, his lawyer Neeraj Gupta backed out of the case, citing “humanitarian grounds”. Gupta claims that he was “kept in the dark” by his client and his family.
Meanwhile, a veritable circus has been taking place on the sidelines of the case with a cast of characters that includes: Rakhi Sawant and her plan to get ceiling fans banned to bring an end to suicides by hanging; Priyanka Chopra’s disgraced manager Prakash Jaju’s claims that the Quantico actress attempted suicide on three different occasions; Hema Malini’s thoughts on suicide being for “losers”; and Dolly Bindra taking ‘ambulance chasing’ to a whole other level.