Fans of Sidharth Shukla flooded Twitter with conspiracy theories a day after his sudden death, even though a post mortem report on Friday did not find any “external or internal injuries” on the popular Indian actor.
The 40-year-old actor was declared dead on Thursday at a hospital in India’s financial capital Mumbai, after he suffered a massive cardiac arrest, leaving colleagues from India’s television and film industries stunned and grief-stricken.
Within hours of Shukla’s demise, Twitter users started floating outlandish theories linking his death with that of late star Sushant Singh Rajput and a suburban Mumbai hospital where both were taken. Rajput passed away last year at the age of 34.
Rajput’s fans call themselves “SSRians” to denote a collective that routinely accuses various Indian authorities and celebrities associated with him of murdering the young star. Various hashtags associated with the actor have kept his name circulating on Twitter even a year after his death.
Rajput’s death, initially reported by the police and media as an accident and suicide and later investigated for foul play, sparked a frenzy unlike any other in the cliquish Indian Hindi film industry. It also triggered a nationwide debate on mental health and a TV-led frenzy — often sexist in undertone — surrounding the role of Rhea Chakraborty, thought to be his girlfriend at that time.
Shukla’s friends told news outlets the Balika Vadhu actor complained about uneasiness the night before his death. He reportedly went back to bed after eating a quick meal and taking medicine. When he did not wake up the next morning, he was taken to Cooper hospital where he was declared dead.
Some of Shukla’s fans have demanded better scrutiny of “conflicting news reports” from within Cooper hospital.
In addition to his performances in popular Hindi TV serials and movies, Shukla had participated in several reality shows like Bigg Boss (the Indian version of Big Brother) and Khatron Ke Khiladi — the homegrown remake of Fear Factor.
One of the many unsubstantiated conspiracy theories also point a finger at actor Salman Khan, who was the host of Bigg Boss the year Shukla won the reality TV show.
The working theory behind Khan’s name cropping up in conspiracies is that Shukla had allegedly become more popular than one of India’s highest-earning film actors.
On learning of Shukla’s death, the Dabangg actor tweeted: “Gone too soon Siddharth.. u shall be missed. Condolences to the family.. RIP.”
Not unlike the public glare and suspicion surrounding Chakraborty at the time of Rajput’s death, some of Shukla’s fans were quick to demand a review of the role of Shukla’s Bigg Boss co-star Shehnaaz Gill in the circumstances leading to his death.
Rajput’s family had accused Chakraborty of abetment to suicide as well as embezzlement of the late actor’s funds.
Chakraborty was later arrested on a drug-related charge in the case and spent one month in Mumbai’s Byculla jail, before being released on bail in October 2020.
Fans have also connected Shukla’s death with the death of 24-year-old Bigg Boss talent manager Pista Dhakad, who passed away following a road accident in January this year, drawing parallels to the fact that Rajput’s manager Disha Salian died a few days before the A-list movie star.
Amid all the outlandish claims surrounding Shukla’s death on Twitter, many users also took to the platform to call out conspiracy theorists, asking them to respect the actor’s memory.
Shukla was cremated on Friday in the presence of friends and family, many of whom visited his Mumbai residence to pay him their final respects.
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