Dear SSR “Fans”: What Does Rhea Chakraborty’s Arrest on Drug Charges Have to Do With His Death?

Social Commentary

Dear SSR “Fans”: What Does Rhea Chakraborty’s Arrest on Drug Charges Have to Do With His Death?

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

When Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in his apartment in June, no one could have predicted that his apparent suicide would become the national media’s favourite pastime for the next three months. Rajput’s ex-girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty was made the bête noir by news anchors, with allegations of everything from money laundering to black magic being levelled against her. All of this was to establish that Rajput was killed, and did not kill himself, despite all evidence to the contrary. Now, out of the three central government agencies investigating her, Rhea has been arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau on charges of consumption and procurement of drugs.

While the news anchors and the legions of trolls who wished to see Chakraborty arrested any which way are celebrating the news, it’s unclear how her arrest for drug consumption does anything to disprove Rajput’s suicide. Rather, as Chakraborty’s legal representation has claimed, it only paints Rajput as a “drug addict” who partook in the same activities as Chakraborty.

The drug in question is marijuana, and anecdotes shared by Rajput’s assistant and his house help indicate that the late actor would use it. India has a cultural history of marijuana, with it being openly consumed as bhang on Holi and by sadhus at the Kumbh Mela. But when it comes to Rajput and Chakraborty, it is being vilified as if it were the direct cause of Rajput’s death.

Many critics of the media trial against Chakraborty are saying that the drug use accusation is the only one with which agencies could actually charge her, which is why it has been played up to this extent. And that it won’t withstand further scrutiny.

Chakraborty’s brother Showik was also arrested by the NCB earlier this month, under the same charges. It prompted the siblings’ father to say that the media trial had “effectively demolished a middle-class family” in the name of justice.

Being arrested itself is not proof of Chakraborty’s guilt. That still has to be established in a court of law, where the trial will hopefully be fairer than the one run by bloodthirsty news anchors and angry WhatsApp warriors.