The stench and clutter that assailed the police as they entered Pratyusha Banerjee’s Goregaon apartment on Sunday highlighted how the actress had spent her last few days before committing suicide, with her life and home in shambles.
Cops found heaps of clothes strewn around the bedroom and liquor bottles and half-empty packets of snacks littered everywhere
This underscores the theory that Pratyusha was depressed; her family and friends said she was upset about dwindling work opportunities and her rocky relationship with boyfriend Rahul Singh, with whom she shared the 2BHK flat at Harmony building. Cops found clothes in disarray on the floor, liquor bottles and cigarette butts strewn around and half-eaten packets of snacks lying around, but the one thing they did not find was the 25-year-old’s suicide note.
A team of cops and forensic experts tried to reconstruct the entire suicide at flat number 703, including the manner in which she hanged herself. The apartment had no AC but there were two fans in the 10x15 hall, and Pratyusha was found hanging from the one closest to the door. The room had a wall-mounted TV and a showcase with the many awards Pratyusha had won, which was probably among the last things she saw. There was also a three-plus-one sofa set.
Prima facie, it seems the actress (famed for her role as Anandi in Balika Vadhu) used the one-seater to get closer to the ceiling fan. The blades of the fan were found intact so it is thought that she might then have tied her dupatta to the middle of the fan and looped the other end around her neck. Sources privy to the investigation who were there at the crime scene reconstruction said Pratyusha might have stood on the edge of the sofa before she jumped and hanged herself.
Rahul was outside, struggling to enter the flat and asked his neighbour Sunil Mukhiya for help. Mukhiya, a cook, was also present for the crime scene study. He told the cops he had crossed over from his balcony into their apartment and found Pratyusha hanging by her dupatta. The investigators found this was a possible feat.
Mukhiya also explained how he opened the door for Rahul and how the dupatta was cut to bring Pratyusha down, after which Rahul tried to administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
The police had hoped to find more clues from houses opposite the apartment, but were disappointed to learn the flat faces only an open ground. Meanwhile, they are awaiting the Call Detail Records (CDR) of the mobile phone used by the deceased and Rahul, to ascertain whether he had actually called her from outside, as he claimed in his statement.
No grounds for FIR yet
An investigating officer said, “Prima-facie, our probe does not point to an act of homicide. However, we are awaiting the Chemical Analysis and Histopathology report, on the basis of which, the final post-mortem report will be prepared by the forensic surgeon, and only then we can make any final conclusion.”
Senior PI Santosh Bhandare added, “When the parents themselves have not made any complaint against anyone, the police cannot register any FIR.”
Senior Public Prosecutor Rohini Salian said, “Anyone can complain as per law, but there should be some cognizable offence to register an FIR, to establish the criminal act. And those who are merely making statements without any direct or circumstantial evidence, cannot be taken seriously to register the offence.”
'She was upset the previous day'
Pratyusha’s aunt, Barnali Banerjee, who is a resident of Ambernath, told the police, “I was in touch with her over the phone and she had informed me about her affair with Rahul. She would speak to me quite often and would also inform me about the places they visited and how they spent time together. She would also mention days when they would fight with each other. She told me she was getting married to Rahul soon and would ask about recipes.”
She further stated, “On March 31 (the day before Pratyusha’s death), around 2 pm, I received a phone call from Pratyusha and she sounded upset as she was not getting any new assignment, and even informed me about an argument with Rahul. I tried to pacify her stating that very soon she would get a new assignment and everything would be fine after she married Rahul.” But the very next day, Barnali’s husband informed that Pratyusha had attempted suicide and was at the hospital.
“The police should probe why she would take such a step,” she told this paper.