Aabesh Dasgupta is not a name you will be familiar with. Not unless you are from Kolkata and have borne witness to the media circus around the death of the 17-yeard-old school student for the past two weeks.
On the afternoon of July 23, Aabesh Dasgupta, a class XII student of Cambridge school in Kolkata was found bleeding at the parking lot of a posh south Kolkata housing complex. He was rushed to a nearby hospital by celebrated author Amit Chaudhuri (who resides in the same complex). He was declared dead on arrival. Aabesh was attending a party with a group of seven teenagers at the housing complex, where he was injured with a broken beer bottle.
Since that fateful day, Aabesh was no longer a 17-year-old’s name. Overnight, Facebook pages sprung up demanding justice for Aabesh, concerts were organised condemning police inaction. Local newspapers ran stories on underage drinking, using Aabesh Dasgupta as an excuse. His mother, Jhilmil Dasgupta, 40, wants to reclaim her son’s name. “People are pointing fingers at my dead son, but they don't realise that he was just like any other teenager. He wanted to pursue an MBA degree abroad. He had met a girl he liked recently,” says Jhilmil Dasgupta.
A shroud of mystery surrounds the death of Aabesh, who, according to initial police reports was said to be murdered. However, soon the Kolkata Police ruled out murder and said Aabesh died “accidentally” after he fell from a low wall.
“There are some discrepancies and they have raised questions in my mind. According to police investigations, Aabesh was not immediately taken to a nearby hospital despite being critically injured. Apparently, Aabesh had received injuries on his armpit by around 5.45 pm, he was taken to the hospital at 6.50 pm. I arrived at the hospital well past 7 pm and by the time I got there, he was declared dead,” says Jhilmil. She also points out that the distance between the apartment to the hospital is barely 2.5 km.
Evidently, Jhilmil is not happy about the ways police investigations have proceeded so far. She recently approached the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with a request. “I told her that we want a fair investigation. We don't know yet if it’s a murder or an accident. The effort so far has been to brand it as an accident. I want to know why is that so?” asks Jhilmil.
Last week, Jhilmil visited the Facebook page created to demand justice for her son by friends and family to find "hate messages all over it". “I couldn't believe my eyes. Some people have created fake profiles and have posted messages maligning my son on the page. They have branded him as a 'rich brat', a 'habitual drinker'. My son was not like this,’ says Jhilmil. The fact that people are going to such lengths to malign her son makes her even more suspicious. “Who are these people trying to malign my son? Why are they hell-bent on establishing this as an accident?” she asks.
Jhilmil, who teaches interior design in a school, insists on clarifying that neither is her family rich nor was Aabesh a brat. “I lost my husband earlier this year. He was just a government employee. We are comfortable but definitely not rich. Even if we were rich, how can people be so judgmental about all this? People are saying he would drink regularly, which is just ridiculous. I brought up my son with the same values that I was brought up with,” says Jhilmil.
Jhilmil, who has been trying her best to clear misconceptions about her son, quotes from testimonials written for her son on Facebook. “Only you would know how we were... having you as my best friend since we were toddlers.. Every small naughty thing we did as neighbours, annoying our whole neighbourhood.. Can't even imagine what happened.. May your soul Rest In Peace,” she reads out.
“Will you still say that he was a brat who got into a drunken brawl?” she asks.