Agency interrogates Deepika, Sara and Shraddha over alleged drugs chats

Actors Deepika Padukone, Shraddha Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan faced a volley of questions by separate teams of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB),the agency probing two First Information Reports (FIRs) – as part of their larger probe into the deathof actor Sushant Singh Rajput. Padukone is being questioned over her alleged drug chats while Kapoor and Khan have been questioned intheir ongoing probe linked to the actor’s death. Sources said that the actors have been denying consumption of drugs. “Statements of Karishma Prakash, Khan, Padukone and Kapoor were recorded. No fresh summon has been issued today,” said Mutha Ashok Jain, Deputy Director-General, South Western Region, NCB.

He refrained from answering questions over the investigations and statements. Padukone was the first to arrive at NCB’s guesthouse near Gateway of India on Saturday morning. Kapoor and Khan arrived later in the day at NCB’s Ballard Estate office. Padukone was questioned for over five hours and was confronted with Prakash, employed with Mumbai-based KWAN Talent Management agency. Prakash who was handling Padukone’s account is under scanner for alleged incriminating chats with the actor which discussed drugs. Actor Rhea Chakraborty who has been the only person from the film fraternity out of the 20 people arrested in the case had reportedly named Khan and Singh in connection with drug use. However, her lawyer Satish Maneshinde has denied this claim. Khan, featured with late actor in 2018 released movie Kedarnath. As per Rhea’s petition before the Bombay High Court, Rajput developed the drug habit while shooting for the film.

The agency has been gathering evidence related to alleged drug chats and parties held in the city and in Pavna, Pune district, to probe if there was any consumption of drugs. Continuing their actions against drug procurement, the agency on Saturday arrested Kshitij Ravi Prasad, who has worked with a sister concern firm of Dharma Production as executive producer on contract basis. He will be produced before a local court on Sunday. In a statement issued, Karan Johar claimed Prasad was only briefly employed by Dharma Productions in November 2019 and is not an employee of his production house.

“I would like to state that several media/news channels have been airing news reports that Kshitij Prasad and Anubhav Chopra are my aides/close aides. I would like to place on record thatI do not know these individuals personally and neither of these two individuals are aides or close aides,” Karan Johar said. Meanwhile, the Mumbai police has warned of actions against media-persons “chasing” the vehicles of those who have been called for questioning. “Many media channels were found chasing those who have been called for questioning. Those chasing vehicles are putting their lives and lives of common people on roads at risk and hence we will be taking actions against the driver and vehicles will also be seized,”said Sangramsinh Nishandar, deputy commissioner of police, zone 1.

The action comes after certain sections of the media resorted to chasing celebrity cars at the airport, residences and near NCB office. In the recent past, reporters from electronic media covering the death case of the actor have been trying to corner those who have been questioned by the NCB.

On Saturday, the Mumbai police barricaded the premises near NCB office at Ballard Estate and guesthouse near Gateway of India, while taking note of the irresponsible behaviour of certain sections of the media, which had mobbed actress Rhea Chakraborty when she had arrived for questioning.

The agency’s mandate is to probe under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) Act, which defines manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, transportation, warehousing, concealment, use or consumption of narcotics substances as offences.

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