Actor Rakul Preet Singh on Friday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for questioning in connection with a money laundering probe linked to a four-year-old drug case.
She reached the ED office here around 9.10 a.m., an hour before the scheduled time.
The ED has summoned Rakul for questioning on September 6 but she had sought more time citing her busy shooting schedule. However, the agency declined to postpone the questioning and asked her to appear three days before the scheduled time.
She is the third Tollywood personality being questioned by the ED. Director Puri Jagannadh was questioned for nearly 10 hours on Tuesday while actor Charmme Kaur was quizzed for about eight hours on Thursday.
The ED officials are questioning the film personalities about the financial transactions, if any, with those involved in the drugs case.
Both Puri and Charmme were reportedly questioned about the suspected links with Calvin Mascarenhas, a key accused in the case.
The ED last week issued notices to 10 persons connected to Tollywood and two others including a private club manager as part of a money laundering probe linked to the drugs racket.
Actors Rakul Preet Singh, Rana Daggubati, Ravi Teja, Charmme Kaur, Navdeep, Mumaith Khan and director Puri Jagannath have been asked to appear before ED between August 31 and September 22.
Tanish, Nandu, actor Ravi Teja’s driver Srinivas are also among those summoned in connection with the drugs racket which was busted with the arrest of drug peddlers in 2017.
Rakul Preet Singh and Rana were not among Tollywood personalities questioned by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Telangana’s prohibition and excise department, which probed the case.
The drugs racket was busted on July 2, 2017 when customs officials arrested Calvin Mascarenhas, a musician, and two others and seized drugs worth Rs 30 lakh from their possession.
They had reportedly told the investigators that they are supplying drugs to film celebrities, software engineers, and even students of some corporate schools. Mobile numbers of some Tollywood celebrities were allegedly found in their contact lists.
The excise department had constituted SIT for a comprehensive probe. A total of 12 cases were registered, 30 people were arrested while 62 individuals including 11 people connected with Tollywood were examined by the SIT under section 67 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and section 161 of Criminal Procedure Code.
The SIT had collected blood, hair, nail and other samples from some of those who appeared before it for questioning and sent them for analysis.
Actors Ravi Teja, Charmme Kaur, Mumaith Khan, director Puri Jagannath and young actors Tarun Kumar and P. Navadeep were among the stars who were questioned by the SIT.
Cinematographer Shyam K. Naidu, actors Subbaraju, Tanish, Nandu and Ravi Teja’s driver Srinivas were also among those questioned.
The SIT filed chargesheet in eight out of 12 cases. It, however, gave clean chit to the film personalities who were questioned as part of the investigation.
NCB ‘visits’ SRK, Ananya Pandey’s homes; conducts raids in Andheri
In a major development, teams of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) paid a formal ‘visit’ to the residences of Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan in Bandra west, and actress Ananya Panday in Khar west, and raided a location in Andheri on Thursday as part of the ongoing probe into the October 2 luxury cruiser rave party.
“The NCB Mumbai Zonal Unit officials visited ‘Mannat’, the residence of Aryan Khan in connection with the (Cr.94/21 case) for seeking certain material related to the investigation of the case from Shah Rukh Khan, by following due procedure of notice, etc.,” said NCB Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede in a statement later.
He also dismissed reports in sections of the media dubbing the NCB trip to the superstar’s sea-facing bungalow as a ‘raid’.
The development, which grabbed national attention, came shortly after the Bombay High Court this morning decided to take up his son Aryan Khan’s bail plea on next Tuesday, October 26.
Simultaneously, Ananya Panday — daughter of Bollywood actor Chunky Panday and granddaughter of the renowned heart surgeon, the late Dr. Sharad Panday — has been summoned to the NCB offices this day for the probe and the actress.
The NCB has claimed that her name apparently figures in some WhatsApp chats of Aryan Khan recovered by the agency, along with others.
As part of its probe into the cruise ship party raids, the NCB has arrested a total of 20 persons so far, and more arrests are not ruled out.
It may be recalled that Nationalist Congress Party National Spokesperson and Minister Nawab Malik had last week claimed that among various Bollywood bigwigs targeted, Shah Rukh Khan was also on the radar of the central probe agency with sleuths keeping a watch on ‘Mannat’ in recent weeks.
NCB drugs case: No bail for Aryan Khan, 2 others
Mumbai Special NDPS Court on Wednesday rejected the bail plea of Aryan Khan, the son of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan.
The court also declined the bail applications of Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha, the two accused in the same case.
Khan’s lawyer said that though the detailed order of Special Judge V.V. Patil is awaited, they plan to “appeal to the Bombay High Court today or tomorrow seeking bail”.
All eyes on Mumbai special court, suspense over bail or jail for Aryan
The Special NDPS Court in Mumbai is the focus of national attention as the bail plea of Aryan Khan — son of Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan — and 7 other youths come up for hearing later on Wednesday.
The arguments in the bail pleas of Aryan Khan, Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha were completed last week and Special NDPS Judge V.V. Patil had deferred the verdict till Wednesday, but the hearing of the remaining accused is pending.
The hearing comes under the backdrop of a senior Shiv Sena leader Kishore Tiwari filing a plea before the Supreme Court Chief Justice N.V. Ramana demanding a high-level probe into the affairs of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and the ‘violation of Aryan Khan’s fundamental rights’.
Meanwhile, the NCB has reportedly found the mention of a heroine in one of the WhatsApp chats of Aryan — who has been inside the lockup or custody for 19 nights continuously since his detention on October 2 and arrest on October 3.
The NCB has reportedly counselled him and other co-accused, offered them their religious holy books like Bhagwad Gita, Quran or Bible, Aryan reportedly is full of remorse and has promised to ‘reform’ himself after release.
However, Nationalist Congress Party National Spokesperson and Minister Nawab Malik has challenged these claims and demanded the NCB should release videos of the purported counselling sessions instead of indulging in selective leaks.
In one of the most high-profile operations, Aryan Khan, along with 7 others was caught when the NCB team led by Mumbai Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede swooped on an alleged rave party aboard a cruise ship on October 2 evening.
During subsequent investigations, another 12 persons, including a foreigner have been nabbed in the same case, while some others have been raided or questioned.
Simultaneously, fingers have been raised at the NCB’s style of working, the involvement of a fugitive and a politician, friends of the sleuths as ‘independent witnesses’, capped by the unprecedented plea to the CJI seeking a probe into the central narcotics agency’s alleged ‘mala fide doings’.
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