By Ananya Bharadwaj
Indore: A senior journalist,Kalpesh Yagnik, 55 found dead in Indore earlier this month allegedly committed suicide following “years of harassment” by a colleague he was once friends with.
is alleged to have leapt off the media giant’s three-storeyed building in the Madhya Pradesh city on 12 July, minutes after a long conversation with his wife.
Five days before, he had written a letter to a senior police officer, saying an employee fired in September last year, Saloni Arora, had been harassing him, seeking reinstatement or a Rs 5 crore payout.
He alleged that Arora, who claimed to be in possession of “some of their conversations and video clips”, had threatened to implicate him in a case of sexual abuse and ruin his image and career if he did not agree to her demands.
He was disturbed, Yagnik wrote, and feared a media trial in the case. At a meeting with the police officer, he reportedly claimed that if Arora approached police with a case against him, he should be given a fair chance to defend himself.
On the basis of the six-page letter and a complaint filed by Yagnik’s brother, Arora has now been booked for abetment to suicide and criminal intimidation. A married mother who works in Mumbai, Arora remains untraceable.
‘Open this bomb’
According to Yagnik’s letter, which is now part of the evidence, Arora called him incessantly and threatened to post some of their conversations on the internet.
“He said he told Arora that he worked in Indore and she was in Mumbai and he was not in a capacity to reinstate her or pay her Rs 5 crore, but she insisted that he use his power to get her job back,” a police officer said.
“When he refused, she threatened to file a criminal case against him,” the officer added.
Arora also allegedly made a few calls to the in-laws of Yagnik’s daughter, threatening to send the clips to them, and even showed up at his workplace.
“She also made a YouTube page named ‘Kalpesh Yagnik Scandal’ and sent him the URL to scare him. When we checked the YouTube URL, it took us to a song, and no other content,” a police officer said.
“Apart from that, she often sent him messages that read ‘open this bomb’, threatening to implicate him in a case of sexual harassment,” a police officer said.
When he approached police with the letter, Yagnik told them that he did not want any case against Arora and had written it only to keep police in the loop.
“He was very disturbed, on the verge of a breakdown, but he did not want any case against Arora. He said his letter should only be taken into account if Arora filed a case against him,” a police officer said.
In the letter, Yagnik also said he wanted police to keep the case under wraps as he feared being judged and losing his integrity.
‘I am broken from within’
Although the exact nature of their equation remains unknown, ThePrint has learnt that Yagnik and Arora were friends and worked together for over nine years before they fell out.
In a leaked audio clip purportedly recording a conversation between the two, a man believed to be Yagnik is heard trying to convince Arora to let things go. He talks about the two being in trouble and his image being destroyed, while she only responds in monosyllables (“yes… hmmm”).
The man is heard asking her what he can do, and telling her that he is “broken from within and will do anything to mend it all”. He also tells her to not talk about the past.
Most of Arora’s conversations with Yagnik were on either Facebook or WhatsApp. “It is difficult to track these calls as they are end-to-end encrypted. There are no records available, only a few screenshots,” an investigator said.
When contacted, Yagnik’s family told ThePrint that they knew all about his equation with Arora and had stood strong with him in the fight.
For six months, Yagnik reportedly discussed the matter with his family everyday, trying to find a way out, before he finally reached out to police.
“Before approaching us, he discussed the case with his family and even explored the option of paying her some money and put the matter to rest, but it did not work,” a police officer said.
“He went through a lot of trouble in his last days and we as a family were with him. He told us everything in detail,” Yagnik’s brother said, adding, “We do not wish to talk about this case before that woman is arrested as we know that she is monitoring everything through the stories being reported in the media.”
Forensics, CCTV footage back suicide theory
While the newspaper had initially claimed that Yagnik died of a heart attack, the autopsy revealed multiple fractures and excessive bleeding and ruled that the cause of death was a cardiac arrest caused by shock.
A shoe impression found on an air-conditioner duct was also matched to Yagnik’s, with the trajectory of the fall reportedly pointing to it being deliberate. CCTV footage from the office showed him going to the terrace, police said.
“Witnesses at the office said he had taken a meeting just an hour before the fall, and seemed disturbed and distracted. He also said he would leave early that day,” an officer said.
Yagnik’s call detail records show he spoke to his wife at length a few minutes before he died and also transferred money to his children’s accounts.
“It appears that the suicide was planned and was not spur of the moment. Yagnik transferred all his money from his account to his children’s. He also spoke to his wife and then went to the terrace. We are yet to record the statement of his wife,” an officer ThePrint spoke to said.
Meanwhile, the search for Arora continues, with police also contacting her husband, and raids underway in Delhi, Ratlam and Mumbai, police said.
A team sent to her residence in Mumbai seized her laptop and phone. “She left her phone behind so her location could not be traced. She has cleaned her laptop and phone, deleting all the records, as she knew a team would soon raid her house and seize the devices,” an investigator said.
“Currently, we have a record of 10 calls she made to Yagnik in May that went unanswered,” he added.
A lookout notice has been issued against Arora following a tip-off that she was trying to flee the country.
(courtsey; The Print)