Director Puri Jagannadh will appear before the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) on Tuesday, as the central agency is set to begin questioning Tollywood personalities regarding the drug business that rocked the film industry four years ago.
The interrogation is likely to bring to light new facts about the drug business that was shattered by the arrest of drug dealers in 2017.
Emergency Department officials will question those summoned about the alleged money laundering aspect of the case.
Last week, the agency issued notices to 10 people related to Tollywood and two others, including a manager of a private club, as part of a money laundering investigation related to drug trafficking.
Actors Rakul Preet Singh, Rana Daggubati, Ravi Teja, Charmee Kaur, Navdeep, Mumaith Khan and director Jagannadh have been asked to appear before the Emergency Department between August 31 and September 22.
Tanish, Nandu and actor Ravi Teja’s host, Srinivas, are also among those called up.
The development has created ripples in Tollywood as two main actors who were not questioned by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Telangana Prohibition and Excise Department two years ago, were also summoned by the Department of Education.
Rakul Preet has been asked to appear on September 6, while Frog of Fame from ‘Baahubali’ has been summoned on September 8.
The ED’s questioning will bring attention back to the case, which was in a cold room and was even deemed dead by many because of the clean note SIT gave to the film’s personalities.
Tollywood circles are concerned about the development as the ED investigation could reveal new facts linking it to the investigation facing some Bollywood actors.
However, an official from the Emergency Department has clarified that for now those summoned will be treated only as witnesses.
The DE has asked Ravi Teja to appear on September 9, while Mumaith Khan has been summoned on September 15.
The drug business broke down on July 2, 2017, when customs officials arrested Calvin Mascarenhas, a musician, and two other people and seized drugs worth Rs 30 lakh from their possession.
Investigators had reportedly been told they were supplying drugs to movie celebrities, software engineers and even students at some corporate schools. The mobile numbers of some Tollywood celebrities were allegedly found on their contact lists.
The Excise Department had set up the SIT for a thorough investigation. A total of 12 cases were recorded, 30 people were arrested while 62 people, including 11 people related to Tollywood, were examined by the SIT under section 67 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) and section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The SIT had collected blood, hair, nails and other samples from some of those who appeared before it for the question and sent them for analysis.
Actors Ravi Teja, Charmme Kaur, Mumaith Khan, Jagannadh and young actors Tarun Kumar and Navdeep were among the stars who were questioned by SIT.
Director of photography Shyam K Naidu, actors Subbaraju, Tanish, Nandu and the Teja driver were also among those questioned.
The SIT submitted a charge sheet in eight of the 12 cases. However, he gave a clean note to the film’s personalities who were questioned as part of the investigation.
The defendants against whom cases were recorded include Rafeal Alex Victor, a South African citizen, and Puttakar Ranson Joseph, who works in the film industry as a manager. Joseph was the manager of lead actor Kajal Agarwal, who fired him after his arrest. However, an NGO alleged that no attempt was made to trace the defendant’s clients.
Authorities had recovered from the defendant 3,000 units of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), 105 grams of MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy), 45 grams of cocaine and other narcotic and psychotropic substances.
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