Adding another chapter to the film fraternity-politician-mafia nexus, 27-year-old Telugu starlet Neetu Agarwal was arrested by the Andhra Pradesh police on Saturday evening for her alleged involvement in smuggling of red sanders.
"She is arrested for her role in the transfer of money and assistance in the smuggling racket," superintendent of police A Ravikrishna said. Agarwal was evading arrest for the past few days.
The actor has a non-descript film Prema Pranayam to her name in which she appeared in the lead. The film was produced by her alleged lover Kondampalli Mastan Vali, a sandalwood smuggler who turned to producing films before joining the YSR Congress Party.
The actor has been named as accused no. 10 in a smuggling case in which 34 logs were seized a couple of months ago.
The police have charged her with routing money into Vali's bank account, which was then used to finance red sanders smuggling. It appears some suspected smugglers have also transferred Neetu's share of profits to her account and police are investigating this lead. Vali has already been arrested.
Neetu first met Vali in February 2013 when he offered her a role in the film. He divorced his first wife while his second wife left him and lives separately. Neetu allegedly married Vali last year.
After the first film, Neetu appeared in small roles in films like Pilla Zamindar but no good work came her way.
She would regularly visit Chennai and Mumbai looking for roles but to no avail. Police officials said she had few friends in Hyderabad and was dependent on Vali for work in films.
After her arrest, Neetu said Vali forced her to finance his business. She claimed she had no idea the money was being used for red sanders smuggling. She has also claimed domestic abuse and being deeply disturbed by Vali's criminal activities.
The police, however, believe she started investing in smuggling activities to earn a quick buck.