Bollywood Actress Meenakshi Thapa Kidnapped and Beheaded: Remembering the Jessica Lal Case
By IBTimes: The ideas of crime and sex are not anything new to Bollywood… and not just in the screenplay of your favourite hits but also in the day-to-day life of the people in the industry. The latest example of the blurring between the lines of truth and fiction is that of the cruel murder of struggling actress Meenakshi Thapar. An earlier IBTimes UK report spoke in detail about the horrific turn of events that led to this young woman being brutally butchered; all from an innocent, if ill-advised, boast of her family have a financial fortune. The rumour led to her being kidnapped on the sets of “Heroine” – a Madhur Bhandarkar film in which Thapar has a small role – where she was overheard by equally struggling actors Amit Jaiswal and Preeti Surin.
The conniving duo then conspired to lure Thaparaway and hold her for ransom – a sum in excess of £20,000 was demanded and when her mother could only pay £730, the kidnappers strangled, beheaded and hacked their victim’s body.
The young actress is probably best known in her country for her role in a horror film called “404”, which was released last year. Prior to her entering Bollywood, Thapar worked as a dance teacher in St Joseph’s Academy and Yeti Skates in Dehra Dun. She also has a degree from the Frankfinn Institute.
This is, tragically, not the first such case to emerge from the underbelly of India’s film industry.
An earlier similar case was the death of a model, Jessica Lal, who was gunned down after refusing to serve an already intoxicated customer more alcohol, while working as a celebrity barmaid. The killer, the son of an Indian politician, was brought to trial only (and handed a term of life imprisonment) after the entire country protested the inactivity of authorities and the national media campaigned on behalf of her family.
According to the chargesheet filed after the incident, Jessica was shot on 29 April, 1999, at about 2 am (IST), outside New Delhi socialite Bina Ramani’s residence. She was taken to a nearby hospital before being shifted to the Apollo Hospital, where she was declared dead. According to a Rediff.com report, when the party hosted by Bina Ramani concluded, Manu Sharma (the killer) demanded more liquor from Jessica, who refused. That refusal cost her her life.
The outpouring of warmth and support that Jessica Lal’s family received, both in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy and the pressure put on the government to bring her killer to trial was an eye-opener for several people. The image of the uncaring and cocooned post-modern individual was shattered and there was hope that a more caring society could indeed exist.
“I feel very heartened. It’s an amazing feeling. I was so disheartened by the court order. The fight had gone out of me. But the response from the media and the people has been tremendous. People I didn’t know or who didn’t even know Jessica, are telling me they are right behind me. That gives me the strength to carry on,” Jessica’s sister, Sabrina Lal, was quoted as saying in an earlier BBC report.
That response from the Jessica Lal case, which involved men and women from across the country and across professions and we can only hope that a similar strong, loud and positive response from the Indian people will make itself heard… if only to say to Thapar’s family that they are sorry for their loss.