12 Telugu film stars to be quizzed for alleged links with drug peddlers
Sources say those served notices included popular Tollywood director Puri Jagannath, hero Ravi Teja, dancer Mumaith Khan, villain-cum-character actor Subba Raju and some young heroes.india Updated: Jul 18, 2017 13:03 IST
Starting Wednesday, the special investigation team (SIT) of the Telangana excise and prohibition enforcement department will question 12 top Telugu film personalities who allegedly purchased cocaine and other narcotics from drug peddlers arrested this month.
Though the SIT did not name any specific film personality, sources in the department said those served notices included popular Tollywood director Puri Jagannath, hero Ravi Teja, dancer Mumaith Khan, villain-cum-character actor Subba Raju and some young heroes such as Navdeep, Tarun, Nandu and Tanish, who have not made it big in the industry.
The SIT has served notices to these filmstars, asking them to appear for questioning about alleged links with the drug peddlers.
“The questioning of these film personalities will go on till July 27. Only one person will be interrogated every day,” a senior official of the excise enforcement department said, refusing to be identified. “Depending on the information we obtain from them, we may summon some more suspects.”
Senior IPS officer Akun Sabharwal, who is heading the SIT, said it was too early to suspect the involvement of film stars in the drug racket. “We don’t want to jump to conclusions till the investigation is completed. All the suspects might not be guilty. So, let us not speculate about their involvement,” he said.
Actors Ravi Teja, Navadeep and comedian Subba Raju confirmed they received notices but denied any link with the drug racket.
Others said they were yet to get notices, but said, “We are no way connected with the drug peddling. We shall clarify everything before the SIT officials and cooperate with them in the investigation,” Subba Raju said.
Sources said the SIT stumbled upon the names of these film stars while interrogating drug peddlers arrested on July 2. The accused - Calvin Mascarenhas (28) and Brendon Ben (20) - who are suspected to be the kingpins of the drug racket, reportedly confessed to SIT officials that they were regularly supplying drugs to these film stars.
The cops seized contraband worth Rs 22 lakh from them.
Besides, the drug peddlers also reportedly admitted to have supplied drugs to select students belonging to rich families studying in various top schools, engineering colleges and universities. However, department authorities decided against prosecuting the students, keeping in view their future.
An advisory was issued to the school managements to watch the movements of students and counsel them as required.
Sabharwal, who was supposed go on a 10-day personal leave from July 16, cancelled his leave following the reports of alleged involvement of film stars. So far, the SIT has arrested 13 persons in the case.
A similar drug peddling racket shook the Telugu film industry in June 2010. Then Hyderabad police commissioner AK Khan too launched a massive probe into the drug racket involving Tollywood personalities. Several film stars and their family members were questioned, but there was not much progress for want of evidence.