Police launch suicide inquiry into death of Indian ‘Houdini’
Indian police said yesterday they were investigating whether a stunt artist deliberately drowned himself while performing a Houdini-inspired escape act in a Kolkata river. Chanchal Lahiri died on Sunday in front of horrified onlookers who watched as the chained magician was lowered into the river but never reappeared.
The body of the so-called “Jadugar Mandrake” (Wizard Mandrake) was only recovered on Monday, still shackled, from the Hooghly river, a tributary of the Ganges river. Kolkata police said they had started an “abetment to suicide” investigation against Lahiri’s company.
“A negligence case has been initiated against Chanchal Lahiri’s company, Magic Belt India,” Syed Waquar Raza, deputy commissioner of Kolkota’s port police, told AFP. “The investigation is also under section 306 of the penal code -- abetment to suicide.” Lahiri had not received permission to perform in the water, he added.
“Lahiri never mentioned in his authorisation letter that he was going to jump into the river,” said the officer. “We wonder why he was in such a rush to perform the stunt. It’s a mystery to us.” River traffic police were absent when he began his act an hour earlier than he had told authorities, Raza added.