The forensic team of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has, according to media reports citing the doctor leading the team, concluded that Sushant Singh Rajput died by suicide. While the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is proceeding with its own enquiries, the AIIMS finding should put an end to the unfortunate and almost absurd drama that came to accompany Rajput’s tragic death.
As this newspaper has argued, Rajput’s suicide should have been a moment to have a serious conversation in this country about mental health. Instead, elaborate conspiracy theories were constructed — placing the blame on either a set of powerful Bollywood figures or on Rajput’s partner, actor Rhea Chakraborty, or both. Television channels were at the forefront of declaring that Rajput’s death was, in fact, murder. Politicians, especially in Bihar, and of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, jumped into the fray — the former with an eye on the upcoming state elections and the latter with possibly a desire to send a message to cultural and movie figures to fall in line. The Maharashtra and Bihar police fought with each other. The judiciary stepped in. Drug and money laundering investigations were kicked off. And Ms Chakraborty was arrested.
All of this was premised on the belief that Rajput was either murdered — it is now clear that there was no murder — or driven to suicide, all on the basis of almost non-existent evidence and an outright ignorance of mental health issues. India’s news television channels owe their audience an apology; politicians who stepped into the fray should introspect and pull back; and investigative agencies should learn to focus on their core job.