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    Sep 2011


    Default Is Sooraj really to blame for Jiah's suicide?

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    The Pancholis Aditya and Zarina are distraught, but will continue to fight for justice for their son, Sooraj. The 22-year-old, who is lodged at Mumbai's Arthur Road Prison over the last fortnight, has been denied bail. A sessions court, while rejecting the bail application, observed that Jiah Khan had been pushed to commit suicide because she had an abortion and was physically and mentally tortured by her boyfriend, Sooraj.

    "May Jiah's soul find peace, but this is unfair," says Zarina. Her voice quivers as she adds, "Why has Rabiya landed my son in this mess? He addressed Rabiya as 'Maa' and in return, she has messed up my child's life. He is not to blame. If anything, he only tried to help Jiah, who was a disturbed child. He had neither been abusive with her, nor had he ever tried to take advantage of her feelings for him. On the contrary, for someone so young, he showed a great level of maturity in dealing with a girl (Jiah), who he had grown close to from around November 2012."

    Going back to the Sooraj-Jiah relationship, Zarina recalls how the two met through a social networking site in August 2012. Sources say that in October 2012, Jiah had a nasty fight with her mother and came running to Sooraj. "She was crying so much that Sooraj almost froze. He was aware that Jiah had, in the past, tried to take her life on many occasions. Sooraj was not her first boyfriend and she had reportedly attempted to slash her wrists when a couple of her earlier relationships failed.

    Also, it was obvious from whatever she told my son that she had a stormy relationship with her mother. Fearing that Jiah may do something drastic, Sooraj left her in the care of one of his servants at home and rushed to meet Rabiya. 'Aunty, she needs your help,' he had pleaded. But apparently, Rabiya turned a deaf ear and muttered something like, 'Oh! Ignore her, she will be fine'," says Zarina.

    "How can a mother be so stone-hearted?" she asks, adding, "Had someone told me my child was having a catharsis, I would have run without slippers to where my child was." Zarina recalls how, in the months that she met Jiah (obviously because she spent a lot of time at their home with Sooraj), she remembered that the girl cried a lot. "She seemed very unhappy," says Zarina. "When I asked my son why he was in a relationship with her, he told me, 'I feel very protective about her. She has had a traumatic past'." Hesitating a while before she speaks again, Zarina adds, "Jiah had told Sooraj that she was raped in London when she was 14 years old. This drew him very close to her. He just wanted to protect her from the world. If you see any of Jiah's previous letters or tweets, you will note that the girl never spoke a word against Sooraj. She always maintained that he was an angel who had come into her life."

    Things between the youngsters were hunky-dory for a while. But 25-year-old Jiah's over-possessive nature made Sooraj, who was three years younger, feel claustrophobic in the relationship. Zarina recalls how Jiah would always attempt to stop him from attending his dance, diction and acting classes. "Don't go anywhere, sit with me, was her constant refrain," says the actress. And it is this possessiveness that ultimately led Sooraj to distance himself from Jiah.

    Also, contrary to reports that Jiah's career was going great guns, Zarina recalls how the girl was shattered when she flew to Hyderabad for a South film audition and was rejected. "Once again, she was howling. She failed to understand why in three years since Housefull, her last movie with Akshay Kumar, she didn't get any work. In fact, Jiah even went to Ram Gopal Varma, her mentor, and asked him, 'I don't know what's wrong with me. Why am I not getting any work?"

    One of Jiah's sisters, recalls Zarina, had made a statement saying the late actress had no career frustration and she was unhappy only on account of her relationship with Sooraj going kaput. "How could her sister, who lived in London, know what was happening back here? My son and I knew that Jiah was extremely dejected because she was getting no work. She would often cry to Sooraj about how she felt terrible because her career wasn't taking off."

    Wiping off tears, Zarina says, "As a mother, I understand what it means for Rabiya to have lost a young child. It is heartbreaking. But why blame Sooraj for it? God forbid, if my son had committed suicide, I would just take it as my bad karma or bad luck. I would certainly not have blamed Jiah for it. Rabiya says she is God-fearing. If so, how can one mother cause such pain and anguish to another mother? I'm devastated that my child has been in custody for a fortnight now. He is being made to pay for something he is not responsible or guilty of. I pray that Jiah has found peace and I also hope God gives her mother brains."

    Zarina is categorical that Sooraj distanced himself from Jiah in May 2013 because he couldn't handle her possessiveness. She remembers her son telling Rabiya that he couldn't continue his relationship with Nafisa (Jiah's real name). But he also added, "Maa, if you ever want me to help you help her, I will always be there." Clarifying that even the so-called abusive text messages that the police are talking about are actually harmless, the actress says, "Sooraj did send a couple of messages to Jiah saying, 'What the f**k yaar. Why are you doing this to me?' That is the extent of the abuse." "Most youngsters use the 'f' word liberally, don't they? My son is no different," she trails off.

    Kabir Khan, director
    Sooraj is certainly not the person, certain sections of the media has painted him out to be. He was the youngest AD on Ek Tha Tiger and came across as a shy and an introverted boy. He is well brought up and gentle. On the sets, I have never seen him lose his temper. My personal experience of him is nothing like what's been said about him. I am taken aback with the reports. I'd definitely repeat him as an AD again. As an actor, he is still very young. He has enough time. I will work with him if I have the right script.

    Siddhant Kapoor, actor
    He's like my younger brother. I've seen him grow up. I have known him since childhood. He is bright, caring, hard working and has a big heart. Everyone makes mistakes but he's not a criminal.

    Leading lawyers feel the court should not have commented out of turn on the bail rejection
    Majeed Memon
    I disagree with the sessions court to have commented on the sensitivity of the victim in the case. The court must refrain from passing such comments, which can have a demoralising effect on the investigating agency or the victim's family. The Supreme Court also has repeatedly warned the courts below to refrain from going into the merits of the case and making such observations, which may have such an effect on the investigating agency and lead to miscarriage of justice. The matter is still under investigation so there must be a fair direction in the pursuit of truth. As regards Sooraj, he may be young and a filmstar's son but these will be the least of the considerations in the case.

    Mrunalini Deshmukh
    As a lawyer, I'm very clear it cannot amount to any abetment of suicide. It's a case of two people Suraj and Jiah who were in love and for whom things didn't work out. No case has been made out made that he was hurting her. She may have fallen out of love, and he is very young too. Question is: What if she had failed? If she had not died, wouldn't she have been guilty? And liable to be punished? Under the IPC, an attempt to commit suicide (section 309) is a criminal offence. Now, because it's a suicide, and you don't know whom to punish, you punish him? It cannot be a case of abetment to suicide. I'm not commenting on the court order, but in such a situation, can you hold a boy responsible for a failed relationship and a woman taking the extreme step? It's not the correct thing to hold him as 'abettor of a crime'.



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