The CBI Probe in Sushans Singh Rajput’s (SSR’s) case is continuing. With most of the SSR team members including Rhea and her family now being continuously summoned by the CBI, pressures seems to be mounting on people who were around him when he was alive – to tell the truth. Samuel Miranda was one of the main hands serving the SSR household and thus knows a lot about the profile everyone had in the job. Samuel Miranda has spoken in detail and his statement (supposedly given to the CBI) and now out in the media has some serious issues which need some serious work by the investigating authorities.As the statement shows, it seems to be an attempt to corroborate Rhea Chakraborty’s story portrayed earlier in an interview she gave to India Today’s Rajdeep Sardesai. After the interview was telecast, a huge campaign had also been launched to seek #JusticeforRhea – making her the victim and not the accused. In a visual world where perception is everything, the interview was designed to create a parallel narrative to counter what led to the CBI coming on the scene. The essence of that attempt was to project SSR as a drug addict who failed to respond to the desperate attempt of his loving and caring girlfriend (Rhea) who ran from pillar to post – to save him.
The Rajdeep Sardesai TV show was Rhea’s lawyers’ plan B in action. Now comes Samuel’s statement which is a perfect corroboration of that thesis as I show here below. Till now Rhea and Samuel’s various chats have been in public discussing drugs and getting drugs for the SSR household. Samuel and Rhea look a team in those chats. For plan B to continue to have effect, that perception has to be dislodged and Samuel has used the timeline (if everything he has said is true) to bring that impression into the scheme of things.
Breaking the impression that Rhea was removing SSR loyalists and putting her own team in place, Samuel clarified he applied for and got the through an internet advertisement. It was before Rhea came to live with SSR. He specifically mentioned SSR’s sister Priyanka Singh and her husband Siddharth interviewed him and offered the job of house manager.
His statement specifically also mentions SSR’s fight with his sister Priyanka Singh over ‘some issue’ after which his sister and brother –in-law left for Delhi. Samuel also mentioned Priyanka shouting at Abbas (presumably the driver) when one day, SSR wanted to go for a shoot and car wasn’t there because Abbas had taken it out. After Priyanka shouted at Abbas, not only Abbas but Dipesh also left the job.
Maintaining the distance from Rhea, Samuel says since May 2019 Rhea was only a visitor when he had just started with SSR. And Rhea came to live with SSR or moved in when Samuel was on leave from July 2019 to August 2019. Yes, he was not there when Rhea came to live in SSR’s house.
All this substantiates Rhea’s claims of family interference and heavy handedness.
Depletion of finances
According to Samuel’s statement, at around the time, Sushant was busy with promotion of Chhichhore, Siddharth (Pithani) and Ayush Sharma had left Sushant’s staff as the actor had not paid them for their work. This is the first of many claims of Samuel Miranda about the actor being worried about his finances depleting fast in the SSR household.
This seems to be a fabrication as at the time of Chhichhore, SSR was really on a high and realistically there cannot be anything wrong with his finances. Secondly, Siddharth has never claimed that when he left, SSR owed him money. In fact Siddharth left his well paid job in Ahmedabad to come back and work for SSR over just one phone call SSR made to him as per Siddharth’s own statement.
Also well after this, when SSR went to Europe, he reportedly spent about 50-60 Lakh rupees of his money on tour paying for First Class travel and five star accommodation for almost a month.
Samuel has told the CBI that he was told by the workers and Rhea that Capri Heights was haunted. He was also told that Sushant would very often come out of the bedroom, hug God Hanuman’s idol and take it in the bedroom.
He has further claimed that Sushant was not well and would often stay in his room alone and would not speak to anyone. At the time – September 2019 – Rhea and Shruti Modi took him to Waterstone Club Hotel in Mumbai.
“But even there, Sushant’s condition did not improve. He used to cry a lot of times. So, Rhea called psychiatrists and they started treating Sushant. Then, Rhea asked him to call his sisters. That time, Sushant called his sisters to the Waterstone Club. Sushant’s sisters, Priyanka, Nitu and Meetu came to meet him. They started asking him about his money after which Sushant started crying. He used to be worried about his finances…”. (India Today’s version of Samuel Miranda’s statement excerpt)
According to Samuel, Sushant was supposed to go with his sisters but decided not to and went to Santacruz to stay at Rhea’s residence instead. He added that SSR’s condition did not improve.
There were serious allegations that Rhea – in order to bring the plot to kill SSR to fruition had organized SSR’s move from his previous place of residence (Capri House) to the current (Mount Blanc house ) where he died. It was being alleged that the access to the place was easier and the security is not as tight as the previous place.
The caring and loving role of Rhea has been highlighted by Samuel Miranda. Each time he has listed SSR’s illness – not feeling well and hospitalization, each time – before SSR’s move to Mount Blanc in Bandar, Sameul claimed, Rhea took SSR to her house in Santacruz.
Samuel’s statement, as doctored as it seems does not completely absolve Rhea from the conspiracy because even the fact of the Capri House being ‘haunted’ was told to him by the workers and Rhea.
After moving to Mount Blanc in December 2019, according to Samule, Sushant used to be worried about the fact that there was no earning, but expenditure was very high.
To understand the essence of Plan B – all the facts which have been almost established against Rhea, are being transformed into caring and loving Rhea’s efforts to help SSR. Nowonder Samuel has told the CBI that because SSR used to worry about out of control expenditure and not enough income, “to keep him occupied, Rhea used to arrange a couple of parties once or twice a week so that he remains engaged and forgets his depression.”
Samuel Miranda – again highlighting the caring and loving Rhea’s role in SSR’s life listed the fact that when in January 2020 Sushant drove to Chandigarh to be with his family and only after a couple of days he called Rhea to tell her that he was feeling a lot better and thus would be returning immediately, she (Rhea) told him to stay on for a bit longer.
Samuel also claims that it was SSR himself who removed his bodyguard, suggesting it was not Rhea as had been suggested.
Driving home the depleting finances and the consequential pressure on SSR, Samuel told the CBI that when (in the second week of February 2020) Shruti Modi broke her leg and informed she would be taking four months off to recover, “Sushant asked Rhea to tell Shruti that he will not be able to pay her salary. Rhea had told Shruti that she would be paid later.”
Samuel has also claimed that Sushant had told Samuel to reduce spending in the house and also to put a cap on spending.
With lockdown announced on March 22, Samuel stopped going to Mount Blanc apartment. According to Samuel Miranda, “Sushant asked him to stay at home.” This is to suggest it was done merely in order to save money being paid to Samuel as monthly salary.
Clarifying that to be the case Samuel added that in April 2020, “Rhea called Samuel and Sushant said that the Pawna farm house lease had to be cancelled. Rhea also told that since the lockdown has started, there is money crunch because of which Samuel won’t be paid.”
On the day SSR died – June 14
There are a lot of questions being asked of all the servants at home as to why they took so long after the morning juice at 9.30 AM and did not break open the door earlier if morbidly depressed Sushant was not opening the door. Samuel’s statement lends a little hand there as well.
According to the reported statement of Samuel, “Siddharth Pithani called Samuel at 11:57 am to inquire if he had Sushant’s bedroom keys as the actor was not opening the door. Samuel told him that Sushant could be asleep”, suggesting him to wait. According to his own statement to the CBI, Samuel knew of SSR’s illness or depression, then the question arises – how could he feel everything was normal when he is receiving a call asking if he had the spare key to SSR’s door?
The statement of Samuel Miranda clearly shows the masterminds of Rhea’s defence know exactly how the jigsaw puzzle pieces all will fit together in their respective places in the end. Rhea’s story being corroborated by more than one members of the SSR staff – should not be a surprise to anyone. Vikas Singh, SSR’s family lawyer had rightly said on the day CBI was ordered, that that was a baby step. To convict anyone in this case – will be a monumental achievement, particularly when some of India’s brightest legal minds are working for Rhea Chakraborty.
-by Dinesh Malhotra
Dinesh Malhotra is Australia based lawyer who exclusively practices Indian Law for NRI clients. This opinion piece first appeared at bharattimes.com.