In a day of dramatic developments, film actress Ragini Dwivedi was arrested after prolonged interrogation by Bengaluru police’s Central Crime Branch (CCB) sleuths in connection with the alleged drug trade in the ‘Sandalwood’ (Kannada film) industry, police said on Friday.
“We have arrested Ragini to investigate her alleged involvement in the use of banned drugs and her links with drug peddlers after questioning her for over eight hours,” Joint Commissioner of Police Sandeep Patil told reporters here.
Earlier on Friday, seven CCB sleuths, including a woman police inspector, raided her flat to find out if banned drugs were kept there. According to police sources, cigarettes with ganja were found in her flat during the raid.
“We also found important materials during the search, which we cannot reveal now as the investigation is under progress,” said Patil.
“Ragini will be produced before a magistrate after medical check-up and her custody sought for interrogation into her use of narcotic drugs at rave parties in the city over the months,” he said.
The CCB also filed a FIR against Ragini in the Cottonpet police station in the city centre under the Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Services Act.
Ragini, 30, entered the film industry with her debut movie “Veera Madakari” in 2009 and gained popularity for her stellar role in films like “Kempe Gowda”, “Ragini IPS”, “Bangari” and “Shiva”.
“Preliminary investigation of the drug links in the Kannada film industry revealed that many people were involved in peddling and consuming banned drugs,” Bengaluru City Police Commissioner Kamal Pant had told reporters earlier.
In a related development, the CCB arrested socialite Viren Khanna from New Delhi, annd he is being flown to Bengaluru by CCB inspectors Sridhar Pujar and Lakshmikantiah, said Patil.
The managing director of Viren Khanna Productions, which organises social and cultural events at private locations, farmhouses and nightclubs in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai and New Delhi, Khanna, 35, is said to organise high-end parties where narcotics drugs are used by participants, including celebrities, film actors, musicians and socialites.
The CCB also arrested Rahul Shetty, a real estate agent in the city, for allegedly peddling drugs to Kannada film actors at rave parties in the city.
“We have arrested Shetty on leads we got while investigating the drug links in the Sandalwood industry,” Pant said.
Shetty is the second peddler to be held a day after accused Ravi Shankar was arrested on Thursday for allegedly supplying drugs to Sandalwood actors at rave or late night parties in the city.
He is alleged to be a close friend of Kannada film actress Sanjana Galrani while Shankar is said to be close to Ragini.
“Investigations into drug links to Sandalwood has been underway over a month. Seizure of drugs in another case led us to Shankar, who is an official in the state road transport office (RTO) in the city’s Jayanagar suburb,” Pant said.
CCB sluths got more leads from Shankar’s mobile phone and statements he made since his arrest and after he was sent to 5-day police custody for interrogation.
The CCB sleuths are also questioning a few others who are suspected to be involved in supplying the narcotics to Sandalwood celebrities and other addicts.
With the arrests, the CCB has taken four persons for alleged abuse of banned drugs like marijuana, cannabis, cocaine and hashish at rave parties of celebrities, including actors of Sandalwood.