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India’s top anti-crime agency to probe Bollywood star’s death | India News

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India’s top anti-crime agency is taking over the investigation into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, whose suicide has shaken Bollywood and sparked bitter recriminations.

Rajput, 34, was found dead in June in his Mumbai apartment – with police saying he took his own life – setting off a debate over mental health in the multibillion-dollar industry.

His former girlfriend, fellow actress Rhea Chakraborty, petitioned the Supreme Court on Wednesday after Rajput’s family disputed reports that he suffered from depression and accused her of stealing his money and harassing him.

Chakraborty strongly denied the allegations and asked the country’s highest court to transfer the case from local police in Rajput’s home state of Bihar.

Indian Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput poses for a picture during the promotion of the upcoming Hindi film

Actor Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in June in his Mumbai apartment [File: Sujit Jaiswal/AFP]

Government solicitor general Tushar Mehta told the hearing the Central Bureau of Investigation, India’s top federal crime agency, would take charge of the case, which has grabbed media headlines for weeks.

Born in eastern Bihar state, Rajput quit engineering studies to pursue a career in acting and dance.

He got his big break in 2013 with Kai Po Che, a film about cricket, love, and politics that won acclaim at the Berlin film festival.

He was also lauded for his portrayal of Indian cricket hero Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the 2016 hit, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story.

Depression and anxiety

In an interview with AFP in 2016, Rajput spoke of the emotional rollercoaster he experienced while filming the movie, which portrayed the heartbreak suffered by Dhoni when the cricketer’s girlfriend died.

“After we did the preparation, in my head I was him and everything that was happening was actually affecting me,” he said.

Rajput’s death – barely a week after his manager took her own life – rekindled discussions about mental health in the industry.

Stars such as Deepika Padukone and Anushka Sharma, who have spoken about their own battles with depression and anxiety, posted messages about the importance of seeking help.

It also sparked an angry outcry from fans and fellow actors about the difficulties faced by aspirants struggling to grab a foothold in Bollywood, with some attacking the industry for its insiders-only culture.

Although many of Bollywood’s top stars such as Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra Jonas do not hail from film families, the industry has a long history of offering leading roles to the children of celebrities, often with no prior acting experience.

Rajput’s last film was a Hindi remake of the Hollywood romance The Fault in Our Stars, titled Dil Bechara (meaning Poor Heart), which was released last month.

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US says it has jabbed 82 million people, topping the world | Coronavirus pandemic News

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But coronavirus rates have plateaued over the past week, raising concern over yet another surge in cases and deaths.

The United States has administered 82 million coronavirus vaccine shots, White House officials announced on Friday, more than any other country in the world.

During a coronavirus task force news conference, health officials said 55 percent of Americans aged 65 and older have now received at least one shot, up from 8 percent just six weeks ago.

“Altogether we’ve administered more than 82 million shots, more than any country in the world,” said Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser for the COVID-19 response team.

But the US has also suffered more deaths than any other country in the world – more than 518,000 Americans have lost their lives to the disease.

President Joe Biden has set a goal of 100 million vaccines administered during his first 100 days in office [File: Evan Vucci/AP Photo]

US President Joe Biden who took office in January has promised to make tackling the pandemic a top priority for his administration and has set a target to vaccinate 100 million Americans by early May – to coincide with his 100 days in office. He has said the country is well under way to meeting that goal.

Officials say 450 vaccination sites have been set up around the country which has sped up the effort and they have plans to open up more sites as vaccine supplies increase over the next weeks.

In an effort to further boost the campaign, last week the US gave emergency approval to use a third vaccine produced by drugmaker Johnson & Johnson. Biden has also announced that the US will manufacture the J&J vaccine, a shot that requires only one dose, further speeding up the effort.

But even with the vaccination campaign well under way, officials said deaths and infection rates have plateaued in recent days, indicating that the nation could be at risk of yet another surge.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said amid the rapid spread of new variants across the country, Americans need to ‘double down’ on protection measures of wearing masks, maintaining social distance and frequent hand washing [File: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, said over the past week, there have been daily 60,000-70,000 new coronavirus cases, and 1,900 Americans have been dying every day.

“The current numbers remain concerning,” Walensky said, “cases and deaths are still too high, and have now plateaued for more than week.”

Amid the rapid spread of new variants, which have been detected in 48 US states, she urged Americans need to “double down” on protection measures of wearing masks, maintaining social distance and frequent hand washing.

“I know that the idea of relaxing mask wearing and getting back to every day activities is appealing,” she said, “but we’re not there yet.”

Several states have in recent days announced the easing of coronavirus restrictions on businesses and have lifted statewide mandates to wear masks. Health officials have responded with concern and urged Americans to continue to wear masks and follow precautions set under federal guidelines.

Biden blasted the decisions by state governors on Thursday, calling it “a big mistake” and “the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking.”

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor said the current numbers are an indication of a likely fourth surge in cases.

“When you have that much viral activity in a plateau it almost invariably means that you are at risk for another spike,” he said.

During the briefing on Friday, officials also announced that the CDC is working on publishing guidance for fully vaccinated individuals, indicating which activities they may or may not be able to resume.



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