A year has passed since Balika Vadhu actress Pratyusha Banerjee was found dead in her Oshiwara apartment. Here is a look at the timeline of events in the case involving her death and her then boyfriend Rahul Raj Singh:
Sometime in the afternoon-early evening hours of Friday, 1 April 2016, 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 2016, 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 the same day, the police found medicines, cigarette stubs and alcohol in her apartment. The house was unkempt and clothes were found lying around. The medicines were used as evidence to detect whether Pratyusha had depression.
On Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 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.
On 8 April, the police noted that Rs 24 lakh had been withdrawn from her account. While her parents claimed that this amount had been withdrawn over the course of months, the lawyer representing them pointed to the fact that Rahul held Pratyusha's debit and credit cards before her death. On the same day, the police said that the injury marks on Pratyusha's body could be a result of torture.
On 21 April, 2016, investigators from the JJ Hospital declared that there was no link between the abortion that the actress underwent and her suicide. They confirmed that she was pregnant and that she had undergone an abortion two months before she allegedly took her life. Rahul revealed that the decision to abort was mutually taken because the couple realised that they did not have the finances to support a child. He produced details of a gynaecologist in Goregaon who performed the abortion, and upon checking, the police corroborated these details. On this day, Singh also offered his version of the story for the first time. He claimed that Pratyusha had a drinking problem and that her finances were mismanaged.
On 25 April, during the hearing of the anticipatory bail plea by Rahul, a prosecutor said that early leads suggest that she was murdered. The probe also revealed that the dupatta was not found hanging but rather in a corner of the house. It was also suggested that Singh may have entered the building through an adjacent window but wasted an hour calling the neighbours. He was granted bail.
On 20 May 2016, Jazz, a friend of Pratyusha and Rahul's came forward with her version of the story. Jazz is a struggling actress who knew the couple separately. She told the police that she was with the actress and her boyfriend until a few hours before Pratyusha allegedly committed suicide. She met Rahul and then went over to their house. She said that Pratyusha insisted that she stay over, but Jazz left at 7 am. Jazz said that Pratyusha told her the burn marks on her neck were a result of an oil splatter while frying fish and that she looked happy while drinking beer at home.
In May, Pratyusha's parents filed a plea in the Supreme Court against the anticipatory bail that Rahul applied for. On 30 May, the Supreme Court rejected this plea.
On 8 June, Pratyusha's parents launched a campaign to garner support for a CBI probe into her case. The campaign garnered more than 1000 signatures according to her father. Her parents blamed Rahul for her "cold blooded murder".
On 28 June, Pratyusha's parents express fear over tampering of evidence after the flat where she allegedly committed suicide was opened by court order. The Banerjees said that they were not informed of this, and that valuable evidence could have been extracted in the two-day period after it was declared open after being sealed during the police investigation.
On 21 July 2016, the Mumbai police filed a 1000-page charge sheet against Rahul at a local court which included statements from 45 witnesses including her parents, relatives, friends and co-workers. In her witness statement, her aunt Barnali talked about how Pratyusha had mentioned that her life had become very difficult and that she had noticed the injuries on her niece's body, which the latter had said was a result of a fight with Singh. Singh had to appear before the court on 30 July.
On 30 July, Pratyusha's parents claimed that the police was going easy on Rahul and that they allowed him to go absconding after the charge sheet was filed against him.
In November 2016, a transcript of the last phone call Pratyusha made emerged. In it, the actress can be heard blaming Rahul. "B******d man.. I f**k so hard.. In my life i f**k so hard... for everything... I had not come here to sell myself... I had come here to act... to work. And where are you putting me today.. Rahul, you have no idea how bad I am feeling right now," she said. As per advocate Neeraj Gupta, this is a reference to Singh forcing her into prostitution, which she made a mention of later on in the recording too.
Days later on 7 November, Rahul claimed that it was Pratyusha's parents who were to blame for her alleged suicide. He mentioned that they forced her to do things that she did not wish to, that she had borrowed a sum of Rs 70 lakh in a loan, and that he had not forced her into prostitution. He said that he was trying to calm her down during that last phone conversation.
A year later, on 1 April 2017, Kamya Punjabi releases the movie called Hum Kuch Kah Na Sakeh she made based on Pratyusha's life, despite the Mumbai court staying the release of this film when Rahul claimed that it was not a tribute to her but rather an attempt to create prejudice against him. He even filed a defamation case against her. In the past Kamya had posted a picture of herself and Pratyusha before New Year's and posted another on her death anniversary.
Published Date: Apr 01, 2017 08:07 pm | Updated Date: Apr 01, 2017 08:07 pm