The Mumbai Police has denied allegations that they did not act on a warning by the family of actor Sushant Singh Rajput of a threat to him. The police said Mr Rajput's brother-in-law, who is a police officer, had been using his influence to sort out the actor's lack of contact with his family, allegedly at the behest of his girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty.
Screenshots of WhatsApp conversations have been shared for the last few days to allege that the family had informed the police of the threat, but it was not followed up.
The WhatsApp messages were exchanged between the actor's brother-in-law OP Singh and Paramjit Singh Dahiya, both Indian Police Service officers. Mr Dahiya was the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the zone where Mr Rajput lived.
OP Singh, a senior officer with the Haryana Police, had visited Mumbai in February on a personal trip and it was at that time that these messages were exchanged. Among OP Singh's requests to Mr Dahiya was a meeting with Sachin Tendulkar and concession for food bills at the Taj Hotel in Bandra, where he was staying.
"I first came into contact with him in the first week of February when he visited Mumbai along with his wife and stayed in my jurisdiction. At that time, WhatsApp messages were exchanged. These messages were basically about his stay. One message to me when he came to stay in Bandra was a request to ask the SHO (police officer) of Bandra police station to inform the manager of Sushant Singh Rajput that 'we are here'. This sounded a bit strange but that was it," Mr Dahiya told NDTV.
On the other requests by the senior police officer from Haryana, Mr Dahiya told NDTV, "On February 19 and 25, WhatsApp messages had been floating around in the media. I had a telephonic conversation with him (OP Singh). It was clearly told to him that without a written complaint we cannot proceed in this matter. He was of the view that the girl (Rhea Chakraborty) or her aides should be unofficially called to Bandra police station in a police sort of way and the matter should be resolved to their satisfaction."
"I would like to draw your attention to a particular chat that was sent on February 25, when it was demanded that a person named Miranda should be taken into police custody for a day and he will reveal everything. How do you take police custody of any person without a written complaint or an FIR (First Information Report)? That is patently illegal and I refused to do that. I told them clearly that we will not act in this manner without a written complaint. We asked them to send a written complaint, but it never came," Mr Dahiya said.
On what was conveyed to the family, Mr Dahiya further said, "…The allegations may be whatever they are. I am not going to act. I am not going to call any woman or a man to a police station without a written complaint. And it was told to me in as many words that 'you should call the woman (Rhea Chakraborty) and her aides to the police station' and sort out this matter in a 'police way'. It was illegal and I refused to do that."
Mr Dahiya said there was no effort to file a written complaint with the Mumbai Police. "I was DCP at Bandra till April 1 and he had a month when I was there to give the written complaint or an email, but it never came."
Mr Dahiya said OP Singh in May asked about his health as many IPS officers in Mumbai had started testing positive for COVID-19. Mr Singh also asked about stranded migrants in Mumbai but never mentioned anything about Sushant Singh Rajput or Rhea Chakraborty, Mr Dahiya said.
The Mumbai Police's response on the WhatsApp conversations seeks to clarify that Sushant Singh Rajput's family was reluctant to file a written complaint, but wanted to use influence against Rhea Chakraborty and her aides. The actor was not in regular touch with his family, the police say pointing to the messages.
The actor's family has blamed Rhea Chakraborty for his death. The Mumbai Police say they are carrying on investigation and won't indulge in "pressure tactics" against a woman even if a senior police officer suggests it.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday thanked the centre for approving his government's recommendation for probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the actor's death.