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Sushant's death: ED, politics jump in

Last updated on: July 31, 2020 19:48 IST

ED files money laundering case.
Fadnavis, Paswan want case transferred to CBI.
Mumbai police will investigate on basis of evidence: Minister.
Friend alleges he is being pressured to nail Rhea.
Bihar government to oppose Rhea's SC plea.

Sushant Singh Rajput and Rhea Chakaborty in happier times

IMAGE: Sushant Singh Rajput and Rhea Chakaborty in happier times.
 

Actor Sushant Singh Rajput's friend has sent an e-mail to the Mumbai police, alleging that the late Bollywood star's family members pressurised him to give a statement against actress Rhea Chakraborty, an official said on Friday.'

The purported mail was sent by Rajput's friend Siddharth Pithani on the Bandra police's official e-mail address on July 28, the official said.

The Bandra police in north west Mumbai is investigating Sushant's death by suicide on June 14.

"In the mail, Siddharth said he received conference calls from the family members of Rajput and an unknown number on July 22, in which they asked him questions regarding Rhea Chakraborty and her expenses during her stay at the Mont Blanc apartment (in Bandra) with the late actor," the official said.

"He said that on July 27, he again received a phone call, in which a family member of Rajput asked him to give a statement against Rhea Chakraborty to the Bihar police," the official added.

"Siddharth said the family member told him that he would get a phone call soon. Accordingly, he received a call from an unknown WhatsApp number, which ended within 40 seconds and hence he could not give any statement," the official said.

Pithani, who was a flatmate of the late actor, alleged in the mail that he was being pressurised to record a statement against Chakraborty about things which he was not aware of, he said.

Krishna Kumar Singh, Rajput's father, had lodged a complaint against Chakraborty, the deceased actor's friend, and six others, including her family members, for alleged abetment to suicide, in Patna on Tuesday.

Singh accused Chakraborty, a budding actor, of having befriended his son in May 2019 with the intention of furthering her own career.

Meanwhile, the Bihar police team, which is in Mumbai to investigate the FIR registered in Patna against Chakraborty, on Thursday recorded the statement of Rajput's former girlfriend Ankita Lokhande, in which she told that the late actor was not prone to depression, another official said.

The police team from Bihar is likely to question Rajput's friends, colleagues, the official said.

The Bihar police on Thursday started the process of scrutinising Rajput's financial transactions and bank account details as part of their probe into his death.

The Bihar police team, which arrived in Mumbai on Wednesday -- a day after the FIR was registered in Patna -- visited several places, including Chakraborty's home.

The Mumbai police, who are already investigating Rajput's death, have questioned several people from the film industry in connection with the case.

Rajput, 34, was found hanging at his apartment in Bandra on June 14.

The Enforcement Directorate has filed a money laundering case in connection with Rajput's death, ED officials said on Friday.

The ED has taken cognisance of a Bihar police first investigation report registered against actress Rhea Chakraborty and some others to slap criminal charges under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in its complaint, they said.

The officials said an Enforcement Case Information Report has been filed in the case related to Rajput's death and alleged financial irregularities being suspected to have been done against the deceased.

The ED had sought the FIR copy from the Bihar police.

The ED will probe allegations of alleged mishandling of Rajput's money and his bank accounts. The agency will probe if anyone used Rajput's income for money laundering and creating illegal assets, the officials said.

Shortly before the ED registered a case, former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had demanded exactly what the ED has now done.

"There is a huge sentiment among the people in the Sushant Singh Rajput case. They feel something is being hidden, new revelations are being made. Hence, people are demanding a CBI probe into it," Fadnavis claimed.

"But the state government has been denying a CBI probe into the matter," Fadnavis, leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, said in a video message.

"The demand for a CBI probe into the matter is being made by the people and not by the BJP," Fadnavis further claimed.

"Now a money laundering aspect too has come to the fore. It has been observed that money was siphoned off from his account. In such a case, the ED has a jurisdiction, so, I have demanded the ED should register an ECIR and probe the matter," he said.

The Mumbai police are investigating the Sushant suicide case and it is expected they will arrive at a conclusion soon, Maharashtra Minister Jayant Patil said.

Patil said he does not know how the issue will be used in Bihar, Rajput's home state, but he asked "leaders from Maharashtra" to stop "tweeting and expressing their opinions about it".

The minister did not name any leader, but his comment came in the wake of Fadnavis's demand.

Patil said the suicide issue should remain limited to the police probe and added it was not right to talk again and again about the actor's private life.

"The (Mumbai) police will investigate the matter on the basis of evidence. We are expecting they will complete the investigation and arrive at a conclusion soon," Patil said.

Asked about the Bihar police conducting a probe in Mumbai in connection with a separate FIR registered in Patna, Patil, a former Maharashtra home minister, said cops from the northern state will investigate the matter since a complaint has been registered with them by the actor's father.

"Since an FIR was registered there, it will be probed. The Mumbai police will give the information the Bihar police want. They (Bihar police) will proceed further if they get any evidence," Patil added.

Meanwhile, the Bihar government said on Friday that it will oppose the petition filed by Rhea Chakraborty in the Supreme Court, challenging the Patna police's jurisdiction in lodging an FIR in connection with Rajput's death.

Advocate General Lalit Kishore said the state will be represented before the apex court by former Attorney General of India Mukul Rohatgi.

"While we have made no prayer for being included as a party to the case filed by Chakraborty, we will oppose her petition since she has challenged the jurisdiction of the state of Bihar," Kishore said.

He asserted that the matter fell very much within the jurisdiction of the state as the FIR was lodged on the basis of a complaint filed by Rajput's father who resides in Patna.

"There have been many instances of cases being registered away from the site of an incident if links to the offence happen to be in the other place," the advocate general said.

He scoffed at Chakraborty's contention that all cases in the matter be shifted to Mumbai and pointed out that the police in the city had not even lodged an FIR."

"It is the Patna police which lodged the first FIR in the matter. I wonder how the Mumbai police intends to investigate a matter without registering a proper case," he said.

"The Maharashtra home minister has expressed his opinion in the matter. Let us wait for a few days. The apex court will come out with its order which will lend clarity," Kishor said.

Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Friday demanded a CBI probe into Sushant's alleged suicide, saying only the central agency can do justice in the matter amid a "tussle" between the Bihar and Mumbai police.

The Lok Janshakti Party founder told PTI that Rajput's suicide is shrouded in mystery and expressed his anguish at the "lack of progress" in the case so far despite the passage of nearly seven weeks since his death.

Paswan -- the senior-most Cabinet minister from Bihar -- noted that the Mumbai police has not registered a FIR yet in the case.

The Bihar police, which registered a case a few days ago on Rajput's father's complaint, and the Mumbai police are in a tussle, he added.

"Then, how they can do justice in the matter? Only a central agency like the CBI can do justice to the actor's family," Paswan said. "The case should be transferred to it without any delay."