In twists and turns that would put a Bollywood drama to shame, the mobile phones of top Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone and her colleagues Sara Ali Khan, Shraddha Kapoor and Rakul Preet Singh were confiscated by India’s narcotic agency, Narcotics Control Bureau, on Sunday as a part of their drug probe in Sushant Singh Rajput’s death investigation.
The day also saw the arrest of a Bollywood insider Kshitij Prasad, who was employed on a contractual basis with Karan Johar’s production company, for his alleged role in peddling drugs to stars.
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“I have been framed,” Prasad told local reporters in Mumbai. The NCB is likely to keep Prasad in custody until October 3 for questioning.
While all the three actresses — who were summoned by NCB this week — have categorically denied consuming drugs, they have admitted to having chats about getting it. An incriminating WhatsApp exchange between Padukone and her secretary Karishma Prakash in 2018 led to the actress being summoned by the NCB along with a dozen others.
According to a report in India Today, Padukone was spotted arriving at the NCB office in Colaba around 10am and left the premises at 3.30pm. She was grilled for over six hours about these chats and her connection with Rajput. Padukone, who has spoken openly about her battle with depression and anxiety, broke down thrice during the probe, stated a source to news channel India Today. The NCB are not happy with her responses to their questions.
Both Prakash and Padukone were questioned together over their WhatsApp chat in 2018 in which Padukone reportedly asks for ‘maal’ (drugs). Both, however, denied consuming any narcotic substance but admitted to having those verbal exchanges over the phone. Other actors who were questioned at another NCB office over the weekend also denied consuming drugs. However, they couldn’t stop the NCB from confiscating their mobile phones as ‘evidence’.
“The phones of Deepika, Karishma, Rakul and Khambatta [designer Simone] have been seized by the NCB under the Indian Evidence Act,” said a source to news agency IANS.
India’s three agencies NCB, the Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate are looking into the unnatural death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput on June 14. Around 18 people have been summoned and several arrests of alleged drug peddlers made over the last few days.
According to reports, the NCB had launched an investigation into the drug angle after it received official communication from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) who were looking into the money trail related to Rajput’s death case. During the investigation, chats related to drug consumption, procurement and transportation within Bollywood circles emerged.
Rakul Preet Singh's involvement
Actress Rakul Preet Singh, a friend of Rajput’s girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty, has reportedly said that she did not consume drugs but she was used as a conduit to get drugs for other Bollywood stars.
Singh has also moved the Delhi High Court seeking urgent interim directions from the court restraining media from running shows or publishing articles against her in connection with the drug probe which emerged out following the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput. The matter is likely to come up for hearing in the coming week.
The petition filed through advocates Himanshu Yadav, Aman Hingorani and Shweta Hingorani claims that Singh has been in Hyderabad for a film shoot and was shocked to see media reports to the effect that the Narcotics Control Bureau, Mumbai has summoned her to appear before it in Mumbai on September 24 in connection with the ongoing investigation in the Rhea Chakraborty’s drugs case.
Karan Johar distances himself
While Padukone is still under the scanner and has lost out on a few brand endorsements following this drug scandal, Johar has distanced himself from Kshitij Prasad and claims that he wasn’t a ‘close aide’ as being suggested by several sections of the media. He also denied that any drugs where consumed in his star-fuelled 2018 party, the revelry videos of which led to the speculation if the actors were snorting substances at his home.
Johar flew down to Goa with his twin kids and mother today and is now reportedly staying at Twinkle Khanna and Akshay Kumar’s Portugese-style villa by the sea.
Following Padukone’s summons, other top Bollywood stars and her colleagues have maintained a studious silence.
It’s believed that the top Bollywood star is being targeted for taking a political stand and supporting students of Jawaharlal Nehru University as they protested being attacked by BJP-supported groups.