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Pratyusha Banerjee’s death first sounded like a bad April Fools’ Day joke to me

I urge you to stop digging into her past. She was just a child and we should remember her like that.

My first reaction to hearing the news, honestly, was that it was a very bad April Fool’s Day joke. I read about Pratyusha’s passing on Twitter and I felt it was in very poor taste. Tanishaa (Mukherjee) called me soon after, asking if it was true. She couldn’t help but wonder aloud why Pratyusha would take such a drastic step. We were both in complete denial of the truth. But it certainly shook me and I was scared to the core. It was only after I called up some of her close friends that I found out it was true. It was heartbreaking. Because no matter what anyone says, all of us outside of the Bigg Boss 7 house were good friends.

I met her last a couple of months ago at a close friend’s house. We both enjoyed a glass of champagne and shared a chat. It was lovely seeing her there. She was with her boyfriend, dressed beautifully! We ended up heading to a party together, where we danced the night away. She seemed so happy. That’s how I’d like to remember her.

At the Bigg Boss house, Pratyusha would sometimes become very quiet. She would have her mood swings, get upset and crawl into a shell. She and Kamya would often be in one corner of the house. But I believed it was because she was too young to be thrown into a situation like ours. Outside the house, I always found her very happy. Maybe this was a façade she put on for the world.

I’m in London shooting a show and Kamya (Punjabi) is in Delhi. We had a good cry together over the phone. Pratyusha was the youngest of us all and we feel like we’ve lost a member of our family. Because truly, the Bigg Boss house turned us into a family. It’ll never be complete again. When I get back to Mumbai, I plan to get all of us from the Bigg Boss house together.

One of the best memories I have of her are in the Bigg Boss house, when Pratyusha, Kamya and I put up a skit. It was a sort of saas-bahu skit; it was hilarious. We giggled throughout! I played a daughter-in-law suffering from constipation and Kamya and Pratyusha played the mother and mother-in-law. There were moments that you guys never saw, they were never aired on television. These were probably the best moments in the house.

The last message Pratyusha and I shared was a Holi greeting. Now her Whatsapp status has an eeriness to it. It goes something like “Mar ke bhi tujhshe na muh modna.”

I believe the police are looking into this as a homicide. I only hope that the police do their utmost. This shouldn’t become another Aarushi case. The last couple of cases, in fact, have suffered even though there has been lots of evidence. If this is a gruesome crime, I only hope that justice is served.

One last thing I want to mention is the new low Dolly Bindra has hit. I feel very strongly about the recording she has leaked, which is allegedly of Pratyusha’s mom crying. I would urge everyone in the media and otherwise to ignore this recording. You can’t use someone’s death to draw attention to yourself and you can’t question Pratyusha’s sanity.

I urge you to stop digging into her past. She was just a child and we should remember her like that.

(As told to Moeena Halim)

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