Kolkata: Chanchal Lahiri, 41, a magician from Kolkata was feared drowned in the Hooghly river on Sunday while he performed the underwater escape act in front of onlookers, The Times of India reported.
Lahiri, who went by his stage name Mandrake, had performed a similar act in 2013 when he was assaulted by the onlookers who felt cheated as they caught the trick.
The underwater escape act was popularised by Harry Houdini almost a century back.
The Times of India reported that there were multiple reports about the incident. The accident happened around 1235 hours near pillar 28 of Howrah Bridge. A source said that Lahiri had taken a launch to the broadest part of the river. The spectators were on the vessel, at the shore and bridge.
The act involved Lahiri to be dropped into the river by a crane after tying his limbs and mouth. It was also said that he jumped directly from the bridge which was disputed by the authorities.
He was expected to rescue himself and swim back to the launch. But this did not happen. “When he did not come out for a long time, people panicked. A couple of people said they saw a man struggling, seeking help, in the middle of the river. The North Port police were informed and a team of divers from the disaster management group joined the rescue operation. Till late evening, Lahiri’s body was yet to be recovered,” The Times of India quoted DC (Port) Syed Waquar Raza to have said this.
After confronted by the mob in 2013, he had said that he was merely trying to promote the art of magic. In 2013, Lahiri emerged from the water and climbed on to launch. This happened six seconds after he was put under the water. Onlookers confronted him stating that the cage was fitted with a false door which was clearly visible.
Almost a decade ago, Lahiti had declared that he would walk on the waters of Hooghly but had to face embarrassment when the act went wrong....