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A young, brilliant classical dancer – Amarnath Ghosh – was brutally murdered in USA: A tale of shoddy investigation and unanswered questions

On day six, we are informed that Amarnath’s mortal body is still in the morgue and the Police investigation is still underway, that the Indian Consulate Chicago is in touch with the police pressing for a speedy investigation.

A young, brilliant classical dancer from India goes to the USA on a full fellowship to graduate with an MFA degree from Washington University in St. Louis, believing to be in a ‘greater’ nation, closer to his dreams. 

From a brilliant first performance on 15th, 2023 at the Battery Dance Festival in New York City, the 34-year-old Amarnath Ghosh tragically disappeared from a street corner in St. Louis on the 27th of February. Him disappearing without a trace prompted his friends to report to the police who later informed that Amarnath had been shot multiple times as he walked across the 5100 block of Delmar near Clarendon. Amarnath succumbed to his injuries on the scene, about a mile away from his apartment. American gun violence had claimed yet another Indian’s life. 

Over the last year and a half, Amarnath had been training young dance students in various American cities, including Pittsburgh and Washington, DC. He was selected by Washington University in 2023, as its representative at the American College Dance Festival, where he made his mark professionally. He was popular among his peers and professors because of his warmth and gregariousness.

From his captivating performances on prestigious stages to his dedicated work as a choreographer and art educator, Amarnath Ghosh’s impact was profound and far-reaching. A proud alumnus of the esteemed Kalakshetra College of Fine Arts and Kuchupudi Art Academy, his mastery of multiple dance styles, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, and Kathak, showcased his versatility and depth as an artist. His training in vocal music further enriched his artistic expression. This shining star had worked his way up tirelessly and passionately.

Yet, what was the worth of his life in the USA?

Day two, missing reports do rounds, day 3, friends are told he’s shot, day 4, no updates, Day 5, he’s still in the morgue, his friends awaiting his remains to give him his due, the honourable last rights. 

No news of the assailant, no CCTV footage, no investigation details, no official news on American portals, no official police statements from Missouri!

Back home in India, due to the social media outpourings of grief, information picked up by mainstream press made some stark juxtaposition. American media had no to very scant reportage. Amarnath’s story did not even make it to national news, let alone international.

It leaves one wondering whether the lethal assault on an immigrant is perceived as lacking in newsworthiness, additionally perplexing is the thought of what might have motivated an unidentified gunman to repeatedly open fire, tragically extinguishing a life that held life brimming with immense potential!

On day six, we are informed that Amarnath’s mortal body is still in the morgue and the Police investigation is still underway, that the Indian Consulate Chicago is in touch with the police pressing for a speedy investigation.

Amarnath, whose parents resided in the Subhas Pally, Suri, Birbhum, West Bengal, had passed away, mother in 2020 and father in 2021. His paternal uncle Shyamlal Ghosh whom Amarnath’s parents had strained relations with, as informed by his childhood friends of over fifteen years, has suddenly emerged claiming ownership of his body and his house. This may explain why Amarnath designated two of his friends, who are not legally related by blood, as his next of kin on all official documents in the US: one residing in India and the other in Canada. Fearing it to become a case of unclaimed bodies, the devastated friends had been trying to claim Amarnath’s mortal remains for cremation. 

Amarnath’s life was marred by injustice, even in death he faces unkindness. His uncle, Shyamlal Ghosh has approached the District Magistrate of Birbhum, demanding his body. We have been informed that authorities are collaborating with an NGO to explore the possibility of repatriating the body to India, a process that entails additional paperwork and further delays. Death resulting from a crime can significantly prolong the repatriation of human remains, and mortuaries too are equipped only for short-term storage of a limited number of bodies.

The mystery surrounding his killing remains unresolved. 

Where will his remains be cremated?

Will it be among his loved ones in America, or among those who who may not have cared for him and may not welcome his fellow artists and friends?

Many questions remain unanswered, including one that has been echoed on social media: “Why did Amarnath Ghosh feel the need to pursue a degree in performing arts in America?”

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Meenakshi Sharan
Meenakshi Sharan
Meenakshi Sharan professionally is a hospitality entrepreneur, is an avid history buff, an independent researcher known for debunking faux narratives. She is content contributor and a writer at Firstpost, News 18, E sanskriti etc. Her book, “Ancient Future, Sanatan wisdom for preserving Mother Earth” will be published shortly, and is working on another, “Saraswati Untold- Her Geographical Existence from the Shastras”, on which she has produced a 45 m Odissi Dance drama. She is the founder of Ayodhya Foundation Org., which promotes revival of Bhartiya Sangeet & Nritya, Arts & Handicrafts

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