Jiah Khan was the rising star who had 3 film offers in succession before she died. Born in New York and brought up in London she aspired to work as an actor since her childhood. She came to Mumbai like many other girls with a dream in her eyes to make herself renown.
Young and lively her talent was soon recognized and she got her first break against none other than Amitabh Bachchan in the movie Nishabd in 2007. She was being praised as a new comer and was even nominated for Filmfare award for best debut. This gave a good start to her career. She then appeared in Ghajini (2008) and Housefull (2010).
The day she died, she was staying at her family’s residence. Her sister Kavita was coming to Mumbai from Heathrow and both were continuously chatting before the flight took off. “We bombarded each other with emojis,” says Kavita. “We couldn’t wait to see each other.” Her mother Rabbiya left her alone at around 9 pm to have dinner with friends. She spoke to Jiah on phone and asked her to have dinner on time. She never knew that this was the last time she was talking to her daughter. In less that 2 hours, when she returned home on 3 June, 2013 she found her daughter hanging on the ceiling fan.
For a mother that scene would have been a disaster. Kavita who was hoping to soon meet her sister, landed in Mumbai just to realise that Jiah was no more.
News spread like a fire, with people and reporters speculating the cliche of Jiah being under depression due to her slow career growth and fights with boyfriend Sooraj Pancholi. This is how many lives ended in Bollywood.
Police came and investigation started. At first, it looked like a clear case of suicide. “We knew she couldn’t have done it,” says Kavita. Jiah’s family her mother Rabiyya, two sisters Kavita and Karishma never believed that she could have killed herself.
It was on 7th June that her sister found a note written by Jiah where she described about the trauma she was forced into by her boyfriend Sooraj Pancholi. Though she did not mention any specific name but that was obvious to tell who is was talking about.
She mentioned in her note about her ordeal both mental and physical that was being inflicted on her. She also mentioned about her coercive abortion which made her too sad and weak.
Here are few lines from her six page letter:
“I didn’t see any love or commitment from you .I just became increasingly scared that you would hurt me mentally or physically. Your life was about partying and women. Mine was about you and my work.”
“I aborted our baby when it hurt me deeply… I have nothing left to live for after this.”
On the basis of this letter, police arrested Sooraj Pancholi a 27-year old actor under section 306 (abetting for suicide) of the Indian Penal Code. Though he pleaded not guilty he was released within a month on a bail.
Rabbiya blamed the police for distorting the facts. According to her, There were injury marks on Jiah’s face and arm, a broken drawer handle, unexplained spots of blood and the balcony windows were unlocked, among other things. As time went on vital pieces of evidence mysteriously got lost, including the white dupatta used around Jiah’s neck in the hanging.
When Rabbiya felt that police was handling the case in a biased way and was not looking into the possibility of it being a murder, she went to the Bombay High Court in October 2013 for transferring the case to CBI so that the case could be probed in an unbiased way.
When CBI also ruled out the possibility of murder, she wrote an open letter to PM Narendra Modi describing how CBI “deliberately distorted certain information”.
Jiah’s stepfather Thomas Puppendahl also questioned CBI on various aspects. He said, “their reports say the wall to Jiah’s apartment is 5m high and nobody could climb it, when in fact it is only 1m at the back.” The CBI also said that CCTV covered the whole building and no intruders were seen entering, he adds. “In reality CCTV covers only the front gate and lobby. It was perfectly possible and easy for someone to access the first floor apartment from the back without being seen.”
A life has been lost, and the bereaved family is struggling to fight against the top and powerful players of Bollywood Aditya Pancholi father of Sooraj.
In the recent development, Sooraj has refused to under go polygraph or the brain mapping test which the authority wanted to conduct to get the insights of the case because now CBI has found that Sooraj has tampered some information and evidences.
While the case has been going on, Rabbiya also claimed that was continuously getting threatened by anonymous letter and people.“One stranger came to my gate and warned me that I still had two other daughters, and I should worry about them,” says Rabbiya.
No one knows what happened in that 2 hours that made Jiah to take such a drastic step. But, one thing is for sure that she broken after loosing her baby and the relationship was not working out.
Let’s hope justice is dispensed in the time to come and truth prevails. May her soul rest in peace.