Over the last few weeks, the Karnataka Police have arrested a bunch of people, including some Kannada actors, and summoned others from the film industry, also known as ‘Sandalwood’, in connection with a drug peddling case. So far, the Central Crime Branch (CCB) of Bengaluru police has arrested actors Ragini Dwivedi and Sanjjanaa Galrani and questioned Diganth Manchale and wife Aindrita Ray, Akul Balaji and Santosh Kumar. The CCB have also named Aditya Alva, son of late minister Jeevaraj Alva and brother-in-law of Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi, as well as film producer Shiva Prakash in its FIR.
The CCB intensified its investigations after the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) arrested three persons allegedly supplying drugs to singers and actors in the film industry on August 28. The Bureau claimed the racket, running since 2015, was helmed by Bengaluru-based Anikha Dinesh who was assisted by Anoop Mohammed and Rijesh Ravichandran from Kerala. Large quantities of Ecstasy pills and LSD blots worth Rs 20 lakh were recovered from an apartment in Bengaluru. The NCB alleged that Anoop Mohammed was associated wit
Following the NCB’s seizure of drugs in August, Kannada film director Indrajit Lankesh, brother of slain journalist Gauri Lankesh, claimed to have information on several film personalities who frequently used drugs at parties. On August 31, CCB questioned him for almost five hours and appealed too to share whatever details they can to support the police in its fight against the drugs menace. Lankesh claimed he had shared 15 names from the industry as well as some supporting documents.
Here are the names under the scanner
Ragini Dwivedi: The CCB arrested the 30-year-old actor on September 4 on charges of association with an international drug peddling racket that revolved around supplying psychedelic drugs to customers at big-ticket events and rave parties. Dwivedi’s arrest followed a search at her residence and extended questioning of the actor, who had earlier failed to respond to a police notice to appear before the CCB on September 3. The same day, they arrested Ravi Shankar, an employee of the state regional transport organisation who was reportedly associated with Dwivedi.
Dwivedi is a top Kannada star and was involved in promoting cricket leagues like CCL and Karnataka Premier League, where she was a brand ambassador for the Ballari Tuskers team owned by real estate businessman Arvind Reddy. A runner-up at the Femina Miss India contest in 2008, Dwivedi made her debut with the 2009 film Veera Madakari opposite Kichcha Sudeep. Originally from Bengaluru, she has modelled for designers like Manish Malhotra, Rohit Bal and Sabyasachi Mukherjee among others. She has also worked in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu films. Dwivedi was last seen in the 2019 Kannada film Adyaksha in America, her 25th film.
Remanded in judicial custody till September 28, Dwivedi is now lodged at the Parappana Agrahara central prison in Bengaluru.
Sanjjanaa Galrani: Days after Dwivedi’s arrested, the CCB picked up Sanjjanaa Galrani. On September 8, the
police raided Galrani’s house at Indiranagar in East Bengaluru and later took her for questioning. CCB sources said she came under the scanner after close friend Rahul Thonshe, a businessman and architect, was arrested a few days ago. Galrani has acted in Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu movies and is known for her role in the Kannada film Ganda Hendathi. She is now in judicial custody till September 30.
Aindrita Ray and Diganth Manchale: On September 16, the actor couple were questioned for nearly four hours in the same case in which Dwivedi and Galrani were arrested. While the couple has
reportedly admitted to attending parties they have denied any involvement in the drug racket. Police sources said their mobile phones have been seized for further investigation.
Manchale made his acting debut in Kannada movie Miss California in 2006 and acted in movies such as Gaalipata, Pancharangi, Lifeu Ishtene and Parijatha. Aindrita made her acting debut in 2007 with Meravanige. The couple got married in December 2018 after 10 years of courtship.
Aditya Alva: The CCB has issued a lookout notice for Aditya Alva, among the 12 accused in the case. The police sources said Aditya was accused number 6 and has been absconding ever since the probe started. On September 15, the police raided the residence of Aditya Alva in Hebbal, North Bengaluru. According to CCB
sources, Aditya used to organise parties in his house called ‘House of Lives’ and these were frequented by some actors.
The 31-year-old is the son of late Jeevaraj Alva, who was a minister in the Ramakrishna Hegde cabinet. His sister Priyanka is married to actor Vivek Oberoi.
The others: The CCB police also questioned former Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) corporator RV Yuvaraj, who is also son of former Congress MLA RV Devaraj, anchor and actor Akul Balaji and actor Santosh Kumar. Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Sandeep Patil said certain inputs have made it necessity to investigate the three, all of whom appeared before the CCB on September 19. Akul, who has worked in both Kannada and Telugu languages, won the second season of Bigg Boss Kannada.
The police have also arrested six others — Niyaz, Ravi Shankar, Rahul, party organiser Viren Khanna and suspected drug smuggler Loum Pepper Samba — in the case.
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