Telugu cinema drug racket: Puri Jagannadh questioned, blood samples collected by investigators
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the drug racket involving personalities from Telugu cinema in Hyderabad questioned well-known film director Puri Jagannadh for nearly 10 hours and collected his blood sample on Wednesday, 19 July.
The sample was collected from the actor following his consent, SIT official Srinivas Rao told reporters. The official said they got some clues during the questioning, and based on these clues, further investigations would be carried out.
After 24 hours, the director came out of Abkari Bhavan, the office of Prohibition & Excise Department at around 9.30 pm and returned home with his family members without talking to waiting media persons.
Jagannadh was the first among the 12 personalities from Telugu cinema summoned by the SIT for questioning in connection with the sensational racket.
A four-member team of SIT officials questioned the director on whether he is addicted to drugs or has any links with the drug peddlers arrested in the case.
"[The] Investigation is going on at good pace," said a brief statement from the SIT on Wednesday night. Enforcement Director Akun Sabharwal, who is heading the probe, said Jagannadh cooperated during the questioning.
SIT officials questioned him about his links with Calvin Mascarenhas, the kingpin of the racket. When he denied any links, the officials confronted him with the evidence, including photographs of the release function of his movie Jyothi Lakshmi, in which he was seen with Calvin.
Jagannadh told officials that he knew Calvin only as an event manager but denied any financial dealings with him. The questioning continued after lunch break, causing anxiety among the filmmaker's family members.
As he did not come out till late in the evening, his wife and other family members rushed to the SIT office. There were speculations about whether the director will be taken into custody. However, the officials clarified that he will not be arrested.
Cameraman Shayam K Naidu will appear before SIT on Thursday. Actress Charmee Kaur was scheduled to appear on Thursday too, but SIT officials have changed the schedule.
Meanwhile, Charmee's father Deep Singh Uppal has said that his daughter has nothing to do with the drugs case. He said the allegations had pained her. Stating that Charmee has been active in Telugu cinema since she was 13, he said she would not indulge in such things to spoil her successful film career.
Actors Ravi Teja, Navdeep, Tarun, Subbaraju and Nandu, actress Mumaith Khan, and art director Chinna are among the other celebrities who will be questioned for their alleged links with the drug peddlers arrested in the case.
On Friday, Navdeep and Subbaraju admitted that they have received notices from authorities probing the drug racket but denied using drugs.
The racket caused a sensation as authorities found that about 1,000 students of leading private schools and colleges in the city were using high-end drugs such as LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and MDMA (methylenedioxy-methamphetamine). They have issued advisories to over 50 schools and colleges to curb the menace.
The SIT has so far arrested 13 accused including US citizen Dundu Anish, an aerospace engineer who had earlier worked with the NASA, and seven B Tech graduates, most of whom were working for MNCs.
(With inputs from IANS)