Karan Joseph death: Family says prime suspect Rishi roped in powerful people to influence them

Updated: Dec 10, 2018, 18:12 IST | Faizan Khan | Mumbai

EXCLUSIVE >> Breaking their silence due to official apathy, musician Karan Joseph's kin say police investigation has lost steam even as powerful Karnataka politician bats for mogul Rishi Shah

Karan Joseph in happier times, enjoying dinner with his father Thomas, brother Ashik and mother Tina
Karan Joseph in happier times, enjoying dinner with his father Thomas, brother Ashik and mother Tina

In their first ever interview since the mysterious death of musician Karan Joseph, his family members have laid bare all the ordeals they have suffered in the past year. They revealed how, on one hand, the police kept them in the dark about the investigation into their son's death, while on the other, prime suspect Rishi Shah allegedly hounded them with calls and threats. They said Rishi even roped in a former minister from Karnataka to ask them to meet him.

In the past, Karan's family members had refused to speak directly to the media, solely issuing press statements as they waited for clearer answers to emerge from the police investigation into their son's death. But for over a year, the only answer the police have parroted at them is: 'The investigation is on'.

(From right) Karan Joseph with his mother Tina and brother Ashik
(From right) Karan Joseph with his mother Tina and brother Ashik

Fed up of being fed the same script again and again, the Josephs have finally decided to break their silence with an exclusive interview with mid-day. Karan's brother, Ashik, said, "I have never spoken publicly about my brother's death. Nobody knows how painful it was for the whole family. But now it's been more than a year and we deserve to know what exactly happened on September 9, 2017."

He added, "We do not have any reasons to believe that Karan committed suicide. But whenever we call the Mumbai Crime Branch to get the details of the case, the only thing they say is that the investigation is underway and they are awaiting some reports. We suspect there is foul play involved, that is why we have decided to speak up now."

Dr J Alexander, former chief secretary and minister, Karnataka
Dr J Alexander, former chief secretary and minister, Karnataka

Hounded by Rishi
While the police refuse to tell them anything, ironically the prime suspect, Rishi Shah, Karan's flatmate and music entrepreneur - the one person they want nothing to do with - has hounded them with calls.

Ashik said, "I know my brother, he was always scared of heights. He wouldn't jump from the 12th floor. Rishi Shah is the only person responsible for his death. If not murder, at the very least I would say Rishi is guilty of torturing Karan to the extent that he committed suicide.

"Rishi's friend [Suzana Usma] and manager [Vidhi Shah] were present in the apartment at the time of the incident, and were the sole witnesses to Karan's death. I saw the message Rishi sent to Vidhi a day later, stating 'I am going to jail'. Vidhi responded saying, 'Don't worry, nothing will happen. Soon after my brother's death, they [Rishi and Vidhi] called us more than once, threatening us with consequences." Ashik alleged that his mother even received a call from Rishi's mother, requesting to discuss the case, but his parents refused.

Mumbai: One Year After Karan Joseph's Death, His Father Asks Cops About Case Progress

Why rope in a minister?
The family got more alarmed, however, when Rishi allegedly began to rope in powerful people to try and influence them. "Around five to six months after the incident, former Karnataka minister Dr J Alexander even called on his behalf, while Rishi was seated next to him. The former minister asked my parents to meet Rishi in Bangalore. My parents refused. If he didn't do anything, why did he ask a former minister to reach out to us for him; isn't it fishy?" asked Ashik.

Rishi tried to reach out to the family again as recently as two months ago. Ashik recalled, "He called my mother claiming he has some recordings of Karan's music and somebody was offering Rs1 crore for them. He said he didn't want to give them to anyone else and was calling to give us all of Karan's music. "We immediately informed the Mumbai Police in writing about this. He should have informed us about it earlier. Why was he bringing it up only now?"

Rishi's attempts to contact them have not been appreciated by the Josephs, who have raised several questions about his role in Karan's death in the past. "From day one, he [Rishi] did everything to emotionally blackmail all of us, asking to speak to us," added Ashik.

The other side
Dr J Alexander, former chief secretary and minister, Karnataka, said, "I know Rishi's parents. I also know that Rishi and Karan were great friends and admired each other. I came to know that Karan's parents were quite friendly with Rishi, and that Karan's mother had stayed at Rishi's apartment in Mumbai for a few days. It is true that I spoke to Karan's father, but only to request him to chat with Rishi, just to listen to what he has to say about the incident. It is not true that Rishi was with me. This is all that I have to state.' All that Rishi Shah said was, "I don't want to speak about this."

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'Rishi had dangled Karan from balcony'
Karan's mother, Tina, raised doubts about the probe. "Days before Karan's death, on September 5 he was spotted dangling from his balcony. A woman who lives one floor below Karan's flat told me she saw a bald and thin boy dangling from the balcony, and she heard a lot of crying and screaming. When she went upstairs and knocked on the door, Rishi told her everything was fine. Why didn't the police find this fishy? How come the cops were convinced by Rishi's claims that Karan was trying to retrieve some money that had fallen on the parapet?" Tina said. "I was quiet for more than a year because I knew my son would never return, no matter what I did. But we deserve a satisfactory answer about his death."

Now, crime branch sources told mid-day that during questioning, they found that Rishi was the one who had strung him from the balcony on September 5 "for fun". "In our investigations, we found that Rishi had tied Karan with a dog leash and dangled him from the balcony for fun. Rishi's house help Vinod also helped by holding Karan's legs. Rishi told everyone to hide this from the police to avoid getting in trouble. But this has nothing to do with Karan's death on September 9."

Also read: Mumbai: One year after Karan Joseph's death, his father asks cops about case progress

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