July 20th, 2017
Renowned Telugu film director Puri Jagannadh appeared before the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the drug racket in Hyderabad on 19 July, as has been reportedly said by the officials to The Indian Express.
The director had reached the office of Prohibition & Excise Department around 10 am amid tight security arrangements, responding to the notice that was served to him. He was accompanied by his brother and his son.
SIT has served notice to at least a dozen artists including some leading actors – both male and female, directing them to appear before it. One artist has been summoned on each day till the month end.
Actresses Charmee Kaur and Mumaith Khan are scheduled to be questioned on 20 July and 21 July respectively. The notice could not be served on Mumaith Khan, and therefore a SIT team had rushed to Mumbai, where Khan was shooting for a Telugu reality show.
Actors Ravi Teja, Navdeep, Tarun, Subbaraju and Nandu, cinematographer Shyam K Naidu 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.
Excise Enforcement Director Akun Sabharwal is heading the probe. He clarified that film personalities were served notices as their contact numbers were found in the call logs of Calvin Mascarenhas, the alleged kingpin of the drug racket. The investigation is aimed to determine if the celebrities were only using the drugs or were also involved in peddling. Some of the artists who have received notice from the Prohibition & Excise Department have mentioned that they have never been involved in drug rackets.
Calvin Mascarenhas’ s name came up when the Telangana P&E Department had made successful drug busts in over 20 reputed schools (almost 100 students) in Hyderabad. This sting operation revealed the increased consumption of high-end drugs like that of LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine).
The racket, whose kingpins were Mascarenhas and Nikhil Shetty, used a particular technology on their phones because of which the messages got deleted every 15 minutes, making it untraceable by the police.
For over a month, the officials have been working undercover trying to forge contact with the drug dealers. Mascarenhas has previously been arrested by the Hyderabad police in 2013 for possession of ganja.
The Telangana P&E Department has made two more arrests on 13 July, taking the number of arrests from 10 (in the drug bust cases in school) to 12, according to reports by Deccan Chronicle.
Anish Dundoo (29) and Ritul Agrawal (26) are the two recent arrests – both of them were drug peddlers and channels through which the flourishing drug racket in Hyderabad was functioning.
Anish had previously worked as a scientist at the Goddard Swain Center of NASA between 2008-09. Later he had joined Siemens. He is currently the CEO of his own company Hitech Rickshaws and is studying MBA at HEC Paris University.
Speaking to The Logical Indian, Sabharwal said, “An ex Doon School pass out, Anish has been a successful techie but turned to drugs after his business venture flopped.”
Other arrests made in this connection are that of a drug peddler named Munna Singh, working in the IT corridors of Hyderabad viz. Gacchibowli, Manikonda and Nanakramguda and that of a tribal woman by the name of Surekha.
Andhra Pradesh also under the clutches of a drug racket
Andhra police have seized 2.5 kgs of ganja and 10 gms of LSD in remote districts in adjoining areas of the border states. Ganja is sold in cigarette form as it is easily transportable in used cigarette packets.
Also, farmers in Telangana and Andhra, bordering Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, illegally grow ganja. They allegedly assist in transporting drugs across borders to Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh to skirt the police attention.
A state of increasing concern
Both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have seen high rates of suicide due to drug abuse or addiction. In 2014 and 2015, a total of 478 people committed suicide because of drug addiction or substance abuse.
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) says that AP stood fifth in the country in 2015 in drug-related deaths while Telangana emerged at fifth place in 2014 in suicides from drug abuse.
But amidst all the hue and cry, the political parties are only involved in a blame game. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) has termed this nuisance as a legacy handed over by the past rulers of undivided Andhra – the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party. “One should be happy that at least now the new government can crack the whip on the drug menace. It is a legacy of the ten-year-long Congress regime we are carrying,” said Yerrolla Srinivas, a TRS spokesman, to Firstpost.
The government has also ordered a transfer of more than 240 officials from the Prohibition and Excise department
The growing cases of drug abuse and addictions have also worried the parents. Most of the addicts are young who are gullible enough to believe in the ‘miraculous’ drugs or adventurous enough to try them. In the process, they get sucked into the whirlwind of drug abuse. The drug peddlers are also young, educated minds who have once been addicts and have now taken to drug dealing. A lot of peer pressure and blackmailing also goes into forcing someone into this racket.
The Logical Indian community appreciates the steps taken by the Prohibition and the Excise Department to reveal the drug racket that has been prevailing for some months now. Alongside, we urge the authorities to stop their internal bickering, look beyond personal gains and ensure a proper investigation into this serious matter.