Hyderabad drug racket: Subbaraju, Mumaith Khan deny allegations; SIT probes several Tollywood actors
Few days ago, when Telangana excise department’s special investigation team (SIT) grilled filmmaker Puri Jagannadh in connection with a probe into the drug trade in Hyderabad, it was evident that a lot of secrets are going to tumble out of the closet.
At least, that was the whole intention behind this operation, where officials and even the government have made it clear that they won’t spare anyone.
This isn’t the first time that someone associated with the film industry has been named in a drug racket; however, when several big names came under the scanner, the whole issue turned into a great deal of embarrassment for the industry, which, until recently, was flying high after posting staggering figures at the box-office in the first half of 2017.
Trouble began brewing when the excise department busted a drug racket, which reportedly, had spread its tentacles into scores of schools and colleges in Hyderabad. Youngsters, sometimes as young as 12 or 13, had become addicted to drugs, including LSD and MMDA, and some girls were even trading their private pictures for drugs.
The revelations sent a chill down everyone’s spine and almost immediately, the government and the excise department sent notices to several schools and colleges to address the issue immediately. Several colleges and schools sent out circulars to the parents of all the kids studying in their school to watch out for symptoms of odd behaviour.
And just when it seemed like the government and other officials involved in busting this drug racket would address this issue seriously and put an end to the whole thing, the narrative shifted to drug abuse in film industry.
In fact, media reports, of late, have become so focused on a handful of actors, technicians who were served notices to appear before the SIT as part of the probe, that everyone seems to have conveniently forgotten what’s happening in the schools and colleges.
Earlier this month, Allu Arvind, Suresh Babu and few others from the industry issued a warning to the film fraternity to stay away from drugs and urged them to not bring a bad name to the whole industry. However, it was too late by then. The names of some of the actors, who were under the scanner, was ‘leaked’ to the media and all hell break loose.
Several actors like Nandu, Subbaraju, Navdeep, Mumaith Khan and few others, who received notices, denied these allegations; however, they are still expected to co-operate with the SIT.
Puri Jagannadh was the first from the film industry to be interrogated and on July 20, cinematographer Shyam K Naidu was interrogated by SIT. Although it’s not yet clear what exactly were the conversations between the officials and people who were interrogated so far, all this seems to have originated from the alleged links of a certain Calvin Mascarenhas, a key accused arrested in the case, to few members in the industry.
Some media reports also suggested that a mobile phone retrieved from Ravi Teja’s brother Bharat, who died recently in a car crash, provided some more clues to establish these links between the drug suppliers and Telugu film industry.
When a section of the media and politicians like Congress’ Digvijay Singh accused the TRS Government of shielding several influential people who were linked with this drug racket, the government categorically denied that it was trying to influence the investigation. At the same time, it’s worth noting that, due to this mad rush to expose the nexus between the film industry and drug suppliers, the fate of the students, who have already become victims of drug abuse, now hangs in balance.
With everyone focusing on what’s happening in the film industry, and with no signs of this issue ending anytime soon, it’s also a matter of great concern about what the schools and colleges, which were named in the drug racket in the first place, were doing to eradicating the menace.
On the other hand, several people within the industry, who have stood by the likes of Puri Jagannadh, allege that the industry is almost always made a scapegoat in such cases.
Be it a drug racket or a fringe group venting out its anger, film industry has been a soft target for everyone, and every single time, the lives of celebrities are scrutinised, stereotyped and stripped off their credibility.
Even before the investigation is complete, the celebrities who were issued notices have been crucified and pronounced guilty of a crime, which they may or may not have committed.
The fact is no one knows if they are guilty or not in first place, but the mad scramble to get a scoop has turned the investigation into an ordeal which has divided the industry with some close friends of the accused coming to their defence, and others maintaining an eerie silence.
Whatever happens in the end, it’s clear that Telugu film industry can’t shrug itself off these allegations. The ghosts of the past have become back to haunt Tollywood and the ordeal will continue until a new bait appears on the scene to fulfill our thirst for drama.