Bengal magician drowns in Hooghly after Houdini act goes wrong

Chanchal Lahiri s body was recovered on Monday. (Express)

The body of 40-year-old magician Chanchal Lahiri, popularly known as Mandrake, was fished out from the Hooghly on Monday evening, a day after he drowned in the river while trying to perform an escape act popularised by legendary American stunt performer Harry Houdini.

The body was recovered around 6 pm by pers 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.

On Sunday, a blindfolded Lahiri with his hands and legs tied up was lowered into the river in a cage with six locks. The stunt was that he would come up from the water by untying himself on his own. According to the police, Lahiri, a resident ofthe South 24 Parganas district, reached the middle of the river on a ferry just underneath the Howrah Bridge from where he was picked up by the crane and lowered into the river near pillar number 28.

After nearly 10 minutes, when Lahiri did not resurface from the water, spectators gathered to watch the stunt called the North Port Police Station. Policemen rushed to the spot. Four pers were deployed to search for him. In 2013, Lahiri had performed the same trick successfully in Hooghly river. However, he was then assaulted by spectators after they saw through his trick.

He 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 senior police officer said.

We have also started an investigation as to how a crane reached the Howrah Bridge, the police officer added.

We tried to spot him. But it seems the stream has swept him away. Because of darkness, we had to temporarily stop our search operation on Sunday evening, a senior police officer had said earlier. This was not Lahiri s first misadventure. He had declared a decade ago that he would walk on the river, but had to beat a hasty retreat later. With PTI Inputs