Certain Thoughts And Questions That Still Linger When I Think Of Jiah Khan’s Death

Posted by Rimli Bhattacharya in Society
February 1, 2018

Jiah Khan, the British-American Bollywood actress was found hanging from a ceiling fan in her Juhu apartment on June 3, 2013. She shared the apartment with her mother Rabiya and sister Kavita, who weren’t present when she died. She had been in a relationship with Sooraj Pancholi, the son of the veteran actor Aditya Pancholi. Not surprisingly, her death attracted controversies.

Jiah, who made her debut in “Nishabd” in 2007, alongside Big B, was nominated for the Filmfare award for the ‘best female debut’. She also left a mark in the box office for her roles in “Ghajini” and “Housefull”.  In her short-lived acting career, she achieved success. Yet, in the end, she chose death.

It’s been alleged that Sooraj was behind her mental agony. Apparently, she couldn’t get over the fact that Sooraj chose to break their relationship. In a letter allegedly addressed to him, she had revealed her emotional vulnerability. The letter also reflected the depressed state of her mind.

After Jiah died, routine investigations were carried out – and the autopsy report revealed that she hanged herself. No external forces had been applied. Sooraj was summoned by the police, interrogated and arrested. Later, Sooraj got bail and everything seemed to be hunky-dory for him. However, Jiah’s mother asked for a fresh investigation claiming that Jiah was murdered and that it was not a suicide.

According to an Indian Express report, “Both the Juhu police, which initially investigated the case, and the Central Bureau of Investigation, the current investigating agency, had submitted that Pancholi could only be booked as per Section 306 (Abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code based on the evidence available.”

The report further stated, “In 2016, the court had begun hearing arguments on framing of charges against Pancholi. After the CBI sought time to make the submissions since there was no clarity on the special public prosecutor appointed in the case, the court had directed the regular court prosecutor to initiate framing of charges. The prosecutor had then sought that Pancholi be charged under section 302 (murder), 376 (rape) and 313 (causing miscarriage without a woman’s consent) based on the complaint made by Khan. Pancholi had then filed for discharge stating that there was no evidence to charge him on these sections.”

The latest update in this saga came on January 30, 2018 – with Pancholi being charged with abetment to suicide, as reported by NDTV.

Going by the contents of the letter, I would like to understand why such a willful woman was driven to the edge.

Furthermore, I can’t understand why a woman would commit to such a relationship where she is being treated as a doormat and ignored. I don’t know if she killed herself or was murdered, but I would like to question those individuals who play with the emotions of women.

In the meantime, Sooraj may have received considerable backing from his father, while the media kept up its attack on the both of them. However, the plights of the two women (Rabiya Amin, Jiah’s mother, and Zarina Wahab, Sooraj’s mother) were largely ignored. I believe that these women were united through their pain and anguish.

Could the script have been different for Jiah Khan and Sooraj Pancholi?

According to the letter, Jiah seems to have been a victim of stardom. Her celebrity life was made miserable by the media and masses. This is the sad fact – if celebrities are spotted in public, it becomes as national affair; if they are seen in their balcony drying their clothes, that becomes a national affair as well.

However, if Jiah committed suicide, I would like to hold her mother accountable in the first place. The reason behind this is the broken family she gave to her daughter. A parent should indoctrinate self confidence, self esteem and mental brawn in their children. Jiah’s mother blames her father – she says that he needs to be hanged, because Jiah was abandoned by her father when she was two. But, I think that instead of narrating her woes, she should have poured her all in nurturing values in her daughter and in making her strong.

When Jiah was depressed, her mother should have realised it and sought help, and not left her alone. Jiah had to undergo abortion which must have been traumatic for her. Furthermore, she underwent the procedure with virtually no emotional support.

Rabiya may be accusing Sooraj, and I also feel that Sooraj is guilty – but I would also say that as a mother, Rabiya is guilty as well. You could not give her a happy childhood and I don’t think you tried to understand your daughter either – even though you may be accusing other people now.

Here, it’s important to bring Sooraj into the picture. It would seem that Sooraj didn’t have a happy childhood either. His father is a man of questionable reputation – and his mother Zarina often has to bear the brunt of what Aditya and Sooraj do in public. Even worse, Sooraj seems to have followed in his father’s footsteps, by not paying due respect to women’s emotions.

Sooraj – if the child mentioned in the letter is indeed yours, then you should at least have the guts to acknowledge the fact. I think that it is criminal to go for an abortion, since it means that you are essentially taking a life. In a nutshell, at the age of 27, Sooraj has already undergone police interrogation, landed behind bars and seems to be in a sorry state of mind and emotions.

Irrespective of whether Jiah committed suicide or not, I preserve my faith in justice. But, I would like to appeal to all people to please give their children a proper childhood. Education is a must – but I think it’s even more important to inculcate the correct life lessons. Here, the parenting factor is mighty important so that children do not stray into a wrong path or face a tragic fate.

If you are trapped in an unhappy marriage or relationship, do not be a victim, but break away from it – even it is only for the sake of the child. Let us not increase the number of Jiahs and Soorajs in our society. Neither should women and mothers have to suffer the fates of Rabiya and Zarina.

Lastly, please give space to celebrities. Don’t harangue them and make their lives miserable for every one of their activities, however insignificant they may be. Rather, we should have a matured understanding of the entire situation.

Celebrity deaths and suicides are not new, but they shouldn’t be random affairs. I believe that we are all accountable to the Almighty. In that context, we ought to die naturally, and not be forced into doing so.