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Monday, October 26, 2020

NCB detains Dharma employee, Karan Johar slams ‘malicious’ claims

Kshitij Prasad, identified as exceutive producer, was detained after day-long questioning, while Anubhav Chopra was allowed to leave late in the evening.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai | Updated: September 26, 2020 11:11:41 am
Karan Johar, Karan Johar drug case, dharma productions drug case, bollywood drugs case, sushant singh rajput drugs case, rhea chakraborty, mumbai city newsKaran Johar's response came after an old video from a star-studded party at his residence resurfaced on social media. (Photo: Karan Johar/Instagram)

The Narcotics Control Bureau on Friday detained an employee of Dharma Productions, as part of its investigations into an alleged drug nexus in Bollywood. It also questioned an assistant director linked to the production house owned by Karan Johar.

Kshitij Prasad, identified as exceutive producer, was detained after day-long questioning, while Anubhav Chopra was allowed to leave late in the evening.

As part of the probe, actor Rakul Preet Singh on Friday recorded her statement before the NCB along with the manager of actor Deepika Padukone, Karishma Prakash. Padukone, as well as actors Sara Ali Khan and Shraddha Kapoor, are likely to appear before the agency on Saturday.

Read| Bollywood drugs case: Deepika arrives at NCB; Sara, Shraddha to appear later today

Late on Friday night, Johar tweeted a statement denying claims that Prasad or Chopra were his aides. He said Prasad had joined Dharmatic Entertainment, a sister concern of Dharma productions, in November 2019 as one of the executive producers “on contract basis for a project which did not eventually materialise” while Chopra worked with them on projects for short durations between 2011 and 2013.

NCB officials had raided Prasad’s house on Thursday looking for him. Prasad, who was out of town, appeared before the agency on Friday morning.

Explained| Can a person be booked under NDPS Act based on chats, WhatsApp messages?

Rakul Preet Singh came in around 10:30 am and was questioned till 2:30 pm.

In his tweet, Johar said he had never consumed narcotics nor does he promote them. “All these slanderous and malicious statements, news articles and news clippings have unnecessarily subjected me, my family, and my colleagues, and Dharma Productions, to hatred contempt and ridicule,” he said, adding that he may not be left with any option but to take legal action.

Read| Karan Johar: I do not consume narcotics or encourage consumption of any such substance

Johar said he didn’t know either Prasad or Chopra personally and couldn’t be held responsible for what they did in their personal lives. Chopra, the filmmaker said, was not an employee of Dharma Productions and had been associated with it for two months as second assistant director between November 2011 and January 2012, and as assistant director for a short film in January 2013.

In a detailed note, the NCB clarified why it had suo motu registered a second FIR linked to the death of Sushant Singh Rajput, and arrested 19, including Rhea Chakraborty and her brother Showik, even as the first one has not led to any arrests.

The first FIR was based on WhatsApp chats purportedly of Chakraborty shared by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) with the NCB. In its note, the agency said, “The NCB received official communication from ED, in which there were chats related to drugs. Taking cognizance, NCB launched an investigation in this matter.”

Bollywood drugs case| Why Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan, Rakul Preet and Shraddha Kapoor have been summoned

Regarding the second FIR, to investigate what it called “a drug citadel in Mumbai”, the NCB said, “Based on network analysis undertaken on technical level, the linkages were explored and one of the nodes of the network was busted on the intervening night of 27/28… two persons Karn Arora and Abbas Lakhani were arrested.”

NCB Deputy Director (Operations) K P S Malhotra said, “Rakul Preet Singh and Karishma Prakash joined the investigation today. Prakash has been asked to join the investigation tomorrow as well.”

Also Read| NCB should probe if Kangana had said she took drugs: BJP leader

NCB officials have claimed that chats alone are not the basis of their investigation and their next course of action will depend upon what comes up during questioning. While Padukone has been summoned in connection with chats from 2017 with Rajput’s talent manager Jayanti Saha, Kapoor and Khan have allegedly been named by some of those questioned. Chakraborty and Showik’s lawyer had earlier said that the two of them had not named anybody.

Meanwhile, there have been no arrests in the FIRs the CBI and Enforcement Directorate had registered against Chakraborty based on the statement of Rajput’s father K K Singh, including charges of abetment to suicide.

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