Actor Vikram Chatterjee beside Sonika's grave at the Lower Circular Road Cemetery
May 18: Actor Vikram Chatterjee has been visiting model Sonika Singh Chauhan's grave at the Lower Circular Road Cemetery almost every day since being discharged from hospital, and her family is upset about it.
The family of Sonika, killed in a car crash with Vikram at the wheel, has requested the Christian Burial Board to restrain him from going near the Cross marking the burial site. But this might not be possible because a cemetery is a public place, according to the authorities.
"We cannot bar the entry of an individual into a public burial ground. We have explained the situation to Sonika's parents.... The only way there could be an exception is if they bring some injunction from the court to disallow an individual from either entering the burial ground or going near a particular grave," Swapan Kumar Mukhuty, the chairman of the Christian Burial Board, told Metro.
Sonika Singh Chauhan
An official of the board said a request to stop a person from visiting a particular grave was "very rare".
Sources said Vikram had been spotted on several occasions near the grave, sometimes sitting for hours on the walkway and breaking down.
Vikram, who turned 31 on Wednesday, was seen visiting the grave on his birthday with a bunch of red roses in hand. He sat teary-eyed for hours near the Cross that has a picture of Sonika attached to it, a source said.
Sonika's family has accused Vikram of shedding "crocodile tears" and questioned why he had not bothered to call on her parents since her death in the car crash on Rashbehari Avenue early on April 29. "Instead of going for photo-ops and shedding crocodile tears by her grave, Vikram should have had the decency of meeting Sonika's parents and truthfully telling them what happened that tragic night," said a relative of Sonika.
Vikram's visits, mostly in the evening, have not gone unnoticed. People have often gathered around him, eager to take selfies with the actor.
Sonika's father Vijay Singh Chauhan recently wrote to Calcutta police commissioner Rajeev Kumar. "We appeal to you to ensure that a fair and thorough investigation will bring out the truth to ensure that the law is equal to all.... We also appeal to you to thoroughly probe what protocols of standard operating procedure were not followed in the hours/days after the accident," states the letter.
Vikram has admitted to consuming "30ml of liquor" on the night of April 28 after initially denying that he had been drinking before taking the wheel of his Corolla Altis and then speeding. The police investigation has almost established that the car was travelling at 104kmph before it crashed near Lake Mall.
The handling of the Vikram case contrasts with how Hooghly police treated Arnab Rao, the driver of Kalikaprasad Bhattacharjee, after the folk singer was killed in a crash on Durgapur Expressway on March 7. Arnab, charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder but not drink driving, spent two months in jail before getting bail this week. The case against Vikram so far is for causing death by negligence.
Unlike other road accidents that are probed by the fatal squad of the traffic police, Vikram's case was shifted out to Tollygunge police station. In the absence of deputy commissioner (south division) Praveen Tripathi - he is visiting Denmark - the probe is now being headed by additional deputy commissioner Aparajita Rai.
Sources said Rai has been in touch with Sonika's parents and has assured them of a fair and proper probe.