Police arrested two men in Mumbai, India on Dec. 25 for allegedly pretending to be drug law enforcers and extorting money from an actress at a hotel rave. The suspects kept harassing and threatening the actress, police said, and she was found dead at her home three days later, allegedly from suicide.
Police have yet to disclose the actress’ identity, but the two suspects, Suraj Pardesi and Pravin Walimbe, have been detained and charged with suicide abetment, impersonating public servants, cheating, criminal intimidation and criminal conspiracy.
The actress attended a party with three friends at a hotel in the affluent Mumbai neighbourhood of Santacruz West on Dec. 20. There, she was approached by the two accused, who threatened to arrest her and her friends for taking recreational drugs.
“The accused threatened to [charge] the actor and her friends in an NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) case. The actor and her friends pleaded that the case be settled, after which the fake Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) officers demanded cash,” police deputy commissioner Manjunath Singe told local press. The accused demanded Rs. 400,000 ($5,331) but eventually settled for Rs. 200,000 ($2,666).
On Dec. 23, police received a phone call that a woman was about to take her life. When police arrived at the woman’s apartment, the 28-year-old had already died. The deceased's friend told police that the actress had been under acute stress over having to produce the bribe money. The actress, originally from West Bengal, had reportedly been struggling financially, and was renting her flat after starring in a few Bhojpuri language movies.
“They continued to call and harass her, following which she took the drastic step,” said Singe. A police investigation is underway. Police suspect two additional men, including a friend of the deceased, to be involved in the extortion scheme. Investigators say these two other suspects remain at large.
Following the incident, politician Nawab Malik from the Congress Nationalist Party claimed that NCB officials have created a “private army” running an extortion business. Malik has demanded a thorough investigation of the NCB’s activities and of the actress’ case. NCB officials denied involvement with the suspects or in the extortion case.
In March, a man in Bengaluru city ended his life after having been blackmailed by an extortion ring over a sexually explicit video. In 2018, a man was arrested in Mumbai after his neighbor died by suicide. He was charged with abetting her suicide and with blackmail, as he allegedly tried to extort money from her after drugging her then taking sexually compromising pictures of her.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, help is available. Call 1-800-273-8255 to speak with someone now or text START to 741741 to message with the Crisis Text Line.
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