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Bengal wizard ‘Mandrake’ drowns in Hooghly river after Houdini stunt goes horribly wrong, body recovered after 24-hour search

FE Online
Chanchal Lahiri death

The West Bengal police on Monday evening recovered the body of a magician who had gone missing while performing an act in the Hooghly river. An Indian Express report said that the body of magician Chanchal Lahiri aka ‘Mandrake’ was fished out by the divers last evening. It said that the 40-year-old drowned while performing an escape act popularised by American legendary stunt performer Harry Houdini.

After police learned about the incident, an operation was launched to locate Lahiri. Divers were called to the spot and pressed into service. Lahiri’s body was recovered from the Ramkrishna Ghat after a 24-hour long operation.

The body was recovered around 6 pm by divers of Kolkata Police from Ramkrishna Ghat in Howrah district. Lahiri s elder brother has identified the body, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Port), Syed Waquar Razaa said.

Police said that Lahiri was a resident of South 24 Parganas district. He reached the middle of the river on a ferry just underneath the Howrah Bridge. From here, he was picked up by a crane and lowered into the water near pillar number 28 of the bridge.

The IE report said that Lahiri was performing a blindfolded act when this unfortunate incident happened. He was locked into a cage with hands and legs tied. He was lowered into the Hooghly water using the cage with six locks. Police said that Lahiri was supposed to emerge from the water by untying himself on his own but failed.

After 10 minutes, when Lahiri didn’t come up, the spectators called the police. The North Port police station personnel rushed to the spot and four divers were immediately pressed into service in Lahiri’s search.

When police were asked how he was granted permission to perform such a deadly act at the Howrah Bridge using a crane, police said that Lahiri had mentioned the act was to happen in a boat or vessel and there was no connection with water. “Hence we allowed him. However, he vaguely mentioned an extra act which he did not clarify. We are investigating, a police officer said, adding that a probe has been launched into how a crane reached the Howrah Bridge.

In 2013, Lahiri had performed a similar stunt successfully in Hooghly waters. However, he was roughed up by spectators after they saw through his trick.