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Model of courage gives up fight

Calcutta, Sept. 14: Khoob bhalo (very good) were the two words Piyali Chakraborty could enunciate. And the deaf-mute girl used it liberally, to describe how she felt about painting, dancing, modelling, living a normal life.

Late on Saturday, the 23-year-old lay dead on a street in Dum Dum, after having allegedly jumped off the roof of the five-storey building she lived in.

Police blamed depression, allegedly born out of some complications over her impending marriage, for the death of Calcutta’s only speech-and-hearing impaired model who had made a mark in her first year on the ramp.

“She recently attempted suicide twice, but failed because her parents found out about it,” said Sudip Roy, officer-in-charge (OC) of Dum Dum police station. “On Saturday, Piyali was at her Purva Sinthi home with father Pashupati, while mother Protima had taken her brother to the doctor. Around 8 pm, when her father was watching television, she left their first-floor flat and went to the roof of the building.”

On hearing a thud, residents rushed to the spot and recognised Piyali. She was declared brought dead when rushed to a nearby hospital. The police have registered an unnatural death case. “The victim’s father said they were not accusing anyone and did not lodge a complaint,” added Roy.

Preliminary investigation revealed that Piyali was engaged to childhood friend Manoj Mitra, an officer with the merchant navy. “Before settling down in Dum Dum, Piyali and her parents used to stay in Durgapur, which is where Manoj is from. They had been going around for the past three years,” said an officer of Dum Dum police station.

Things were fine till Manoj’s family, apparently, began deferring the marriage date. “We finally fixed the date for December 14. We had booked a house for the marriage ceremony…. But a few months ago, Manoj asked us for Rs 70,000. All this made Piyali depressed,” mother Protima said.

When contacted in Durgapur, Manoj’s mother Nandita denied the charges. “Piyali and Manoj were childhood friends. They grew up here. We never objected to the relationship. There is no question of demanding a dowry, but we had asked for the marriage to be deferred because of a financial problem. We wanted Manoj to settle down financially before getting married. He might have asked for some money from Piyali’s family as a loan.”

Piyali, friends in the fashion industry said, was “excited” about her marriage.

Those who had walked the ramp with the girl were shocked by the sudden end to what could have been an amazing career, not just for her presence and poise, but for her quiet conviction.

“I can’t believe she did it. Piyali was so strong and confident. I always thought she would go places,” said model-turned-actress Koena Mitra.

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