March 31, 2020
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A Tragedy For Mr Byomkesh

Police detectives are still probing Aabesh’s death, as Calcutta pricks its ears up at hints of a power hush-up

A Tragedy For Mr Byomkesh
Aabesh’s mother Rimjhim lights a candle at a protest, seeking justice
Photograph by Sandipan Chatterjee
A Tragedy For Mr Byomkesh
outlookindia.com
2016-07-29T22:55:30+0530

Way To a Tragic End

  • Aabesh, a typical teenager, meets an untimely death
  • Aabesh wanted a friend to introduce him to a girl
  • They were introduced a month ago and bonded
  • The friend’s father warns families of the ‘bad boy’, ‘bad girl’
  • The friend invites Aabesh to attend a birthday party
  • The boys return from lunch, continue drinking wine, vodka
  • Aabesh found bleeding, injured by shards of glass
  • The friend, son of a businessman, leaves alone in his car
  • Aabesh is taken to hospital, is declared ‘brought dead’

***

The whiff of a scandal, hint of a teenage crush and a swirling mystery involving businessmen, politicians and cel­­ebs have cast a shadow on the untimely and tragic death of a 17-year-old boy and keeping Calcuttans riveted.  The teenager, a class XII student of an elite school, was found bleeding in the parking lot of a well-known housing complex in posh Sunny Park in Ballygunge on July 23, and was declared brought dead by the hospital.

The boy had arrived at the complex ‘uninvited’, but as the guest of an invitee to celebrate the birthday of author Amit Chaudhuri’s daughter. The group of teenagers, the oldest not over 18, had ret­urned after having lunch outside and some of the boys had decided to continue the celebrations with wine and hard liquor in the covered parking lot.

What happened thereafter is hazy—Calcutta Police failed to get a coherent pic­­ture even after talking to the 16 teenagers who had met for the ‘party’. Some of them gave the police a plausible story: that the boy, Aabesh Dasgupta, was moving around with a bottle of wine under his arm when he slipped and fell with the bottle. The broken glass, they suggested, went thr­­ough his left armpit, causing heavy bleeding. By the time they raised an alarm and tried to get an ambulance and taxis, he had bled heavily and died while he was finally being driven to hospital in Chaudhuri’s car. It was, they said, essentially an accident.

The parking lot in Sunny Park Apts, where an injured Aabesh had lain

Photograph by Sandipan Chatterjee


However, Aabesh’s mother and relatives suspect foul play. His 40-year-old mother, Rimjhim, is inconsolable at the loss of her only child and was shuffling restlessly in her parents’ home when Outlook caught up with her. There were attempts to hush up the ‘murder’ because of the involvement of influential people, she whispered in a daze.

That suspicion received a fillip when it became known that the boy who had brought Aabesh to the party had left alone. A tight-­­lipped Calcutta Police would not say if the boy had left after Aabesh was found bleeding or before. A twist was added when Aabesh’s girlfriend, a 18-year-old college student, admitted that the father of the boy who had invited Aabesh had adv­ised her to stay away from the ‘bad boy’. The parent had similarly advised the boy’s mother, with whom he was acqua­i­nted, to keep Aabesh away from the ‘bad girl’.

The sobbing girl told Outlook over the phone that she was introduced to Aabesh by the same boy, who was like a younger brother to her. “Aabesh and he were childhood friends,” she reveals, while rubbishing reports of any romantic complications.

“When Aabesh asked him to introduce me to him, he convinced me. I was initially rel­uctant but later agreed.” That was only a month ago and she soon realised that Aabesh “was a really nice boy”. Both she and Aabesh’s family claim that the father of the boy tried to interfere in the relationship. The girl told Outlook, “The gentleman came to our house and said, ‘Aabesh is a really bad boy’, and that I should stay away from him. And he went to Aabesh’s house and apparently told his mother that I was a ‘bad girl’ and should be avoided.” Aabesh’s kin confirm the claim but neither side is able to explain why the man would do this.

“I have no clue,” the girl said, breaking down. When she recovered, she added, “For a few days I had stopped talking to him, avoiding his calls and messages. But then it was okay again. Now I have to live with these memories. I feel like reaching out to him and speaking to him. But he is not there. Now I have no closure.”

In a statement, Amit Chaudhuri clarified that the party was not held at his flat since his family was mourning the death of his mother. But since his daughter’s friends had dropped in to surprise her on her birthday, they were asked to have lunch outside. They had all gone out and returned by around 4 pm.

Aabesh was unknown to the group, but was the guest of one boy, Chaudhuri pointed out, and added that this boy had left the venue—he drove off in his car—suddenly and inexplicably, even as Aabesh was lying in the parking lot, bleeding profusely.

Chaudhuri said that around 6 pm his driver informed them about the bleeding boy. “When I arrived on the scene, I found that two of the boys in the group were attending to the boy in the garage. Others were trying to call an ambulance. They also tried to hail a yellow cab to take him to a hospital.....” He said he decided not to wait for the ambulance but put him in his car and told the driver to rush to the hospital along with two other boys and followed with his family in a separate car.

At the hospital Aabesh was declared brought dead. One of the boys who acc­ompanied Aabesh to the hospital said to a television channel, “He was still alive when we were on our way. He must have passed away in my arms.”

While a case of murder has been registered at the Ballygunge police station, the ‘accident’ theory has not been ruled out. The post-mortem report confirmed the presence of alcohol; the cause of death is attributed to excessive bleeding from a deep gash on the left side of the body. But medical experts say that none of this can rule out foul play either.

Aabesh’s family, distressed by the fact that the possibility of an accident is even being suggested, claims this is what makes them suspect “a massive attempt at a cover-up.” Speaking to Outlook, Aabesh’s uncle Hredesh Thakkar asked several questions. “When we went to the hospital, we found a very influential politician—the cultural secretary of the West Bengal government—present. He was called there by a parent. What was he doing there? Why did the boy who took Aabesh to the party leave suddenly without attending to him? And why were we the last to be informed when parents of the other children were there?”

The grieving mother asks vehemently, “If it was an accident, what would be the normal reaction by the children who saw it on the spot? Wouldn’t they rush to his aid? Wouldn’t they try to call me? Why would the whole thing be shrouded in so much secrecy?” She says that when she went to the hospital and frantically enq­uired from each of the children what happened, “everyone just kept saying, ‘I don’t know, I didn’t see anything’.”

The family fears that even sections of the media cannot be trusted. “The father of one teenager is the head of the HR dep­artment at a powerful media house in the city,” says Thakkar.

The tragedy has left the family stunned. Rimjhim, an interior designer, had lost her husband, who worked with Calcutta Police, in February this year. Now, five months later, she has lost her son under circumstances that make no sense to her. She is anxious that vital time is passing in delays and crucial evidence is being destroyed, if not removed. “Why weren’t the versions of the children taken before they could be briefed? Do you know that pieces of glass that were lying in the parking lot have been cleared? Some of the blood has been was­hed away. And I hear the CCTV camera was turned in the opposite direction,” she says.

Indeed, neutral observers too find it ‘sho­cking’ that an incident which took place in broad daylight, in the middle of a populated parking lot, frequented by drivers, security personnel, domestic wor­­kers and others, in an upmarket residential complex, with over a dozen CCTV cameras, should be shrouded in so much mist. “It should be the easiest job for the Calcutta Police to get to the bottom of the incident,” says Thakkar. “Don’t know what is taking so long to get some clarity.”

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