The Narcotics Control Bureau focus seems to have shifted from drug cartels and intermediaries to celebrities and their WhatsApp chats dated back to 2017.
Widening the ambit of its probe into charges of drug procurement in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case, the NCB has issued summons to Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan, Shradhha Kapoor and Rakul Preet Singh.
Confirming the development on Wednesday, KPS Malhotra, deputy director, NCB, disclosed that the four celebrities will be questioned for three days beginning Thursday.
The agency has called fashion designer Simone Khambatta, actor Rakul Preet Singh and Rajput's former business manager Shruti Modi for questioning on Thursday.
Padukone – one of the country's top actors – has been asked to appear before the anti-narcotics agency on Friday. The next day (Saturday), actors Sara Ali Khan and Shraddha Kapoor have been called.
The probe into the death of Rajput has snowballed with multiple agencies probing allegations of abetment of suicide, drugs procurement and money laundering.
Under the scanner are some self-incriminating chats of celebrities which have captured the imagination of the social media. Going viral among these are chats in which narcotics substances are allegedly mentioned by Padukone. The actor is yet to react.
The chats are from October 2017, in which the sender, believed to be ‘Deepika Padukone,’ is asking for 'maal' from 'K', who replies that she has it, but at home. The agency believes ‘K’ is Karishma Prakash’s initial who is associated with Mumbai-based KWAN Talent Management Agency and handled Padukone’s account. Prakash has also been summoned but requested time citing ill health. The chats further discuss how the contraband could be delivered and Deepika states her preference is for 'hash' and 'not weed'. Deepika is expected to reach the city soon from Goa where she is reported to be shooting.
The agency began to scan WhatsApp conversations of prominent personalities after they stumbled upon messages retrieved from Rhea Chakraborty's mobile phone, which had revealed conversations on procuring drugs.
The agency on Wednesday also questioned Madhu Mantena, who co-produced film ‘Udta Punjab’, a movie based on the issue of drug menace. Mantena’s name reportedly cropped up during the questioning of talent manager Jaya Saha who is being questioned in the case.