Well-known Telugu film director Puri Jagannadh on Wednesday appeared before the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the drug racket in Hyderabad, officials said. Accompanied by his brother and son, the director reached the office of Prohibition & Excise Department around 10 a.m. amid tight security arrangements, in response to the notice served on him.
With the questioning of Jagannadh, the SIT began questioning Tollywood personalities in connection with the case busted in the city earlier this month.
SIT has served notice to at least a dozen artists including some leading actors and actresses, 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 July 20 and July 21 respectively. As notice could not be served on Mumaith Khan, an SIT team has rushed to Mumbai, where the actress is 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, who is heading the probe, said the film personalities were served notices as their contact numbers were found in the call data of Calvin Mascraenhas, said to be the kingpin of the racket. The investigators will try to find out if the celebrities were only using the drugs or were also involved in peddling. Some of the artists summoned have 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 multi-national companies.