Asserting that she had nothing to hide, Kannada actress Ragini Dwivedi on Thursday said she had no connection with the alleged drug links in the Sandalwood industry.
“I have nothing to hide and have no connection with unlawful activity being probed by the state central crime branch (CCB) police and drug links some Kannada actors alleged to have,” Ragini said in a statement here.
Expressing inability to appear before the CCB on Thursday in response to its summons on Wednesday following the drug abuse claims by Kannada film producer Inderjit Lankesh, Ragini said she sought time, as she could not prepare to appear for the probe at a short notice.
“As I consider it my duty to respond to the summons as a citizen, I will appear before it (CCB) on Monday (September 7) and respond to their questions,” said the leading Sandalwood actress.
Ragini, 30, is the first Kannada film actor to be summoned by the CCB after Lankesh on August 29 alleged a dozen actors and some musicians were involved in consuming banned drugs during shooting sessions and at rave parties organised by stakeholders.
“Advocates representing Ragini appeared before our sleuths and gave her letter stating she would do join on September 7 if they permitted,” a CCB official told IANS.
Lankesh made startling revelations about the rampant abuse of banned drugs in the multi-crore film industry three days after the Narcotic Control Bureau busted a drug trafficking racket in the southern state and arrested former Kannada television actress D. Anikha and two of her accomplices, R. Ravindran and M. Anoop from the city on August 26.
The Central agency also seized a huge cache of drugs from the accused, including 145 ecstasies or MDMA pills and Rs 2.2 lakh in cash from Royal Suites Hotel Apartment in the city’s northeast suburb on August 21 and more pills in a follow-up raid last week.
The drug racket is suspected to supply recreational and party drugs to sandalwood actors, children of VIPs, students and others.
“Noted musicians and actors in the Kannada film industry are under the scanner after their links to drugs came to light,” an NCB official earlier said.
“I am grateful to the concern expressed by the public on a notice the police served on me to appear before its sleuths today (Thursday). As I respect the due process of law, my lawyers represented me before the police and sought more time to appear before them,” said Ragini.
Lankesh, however, came to the CCB office in the city centre for the second time on summons by the city joint commissioner of police Sandeep Patil, who is investigating the multi-crore drug scam that rocked the Kannada film sector.
“I presented before the CCB for the second time on a summons. But I cannot divulge details of what I presented to its officials. Let them (CCB) investigate the charges and truth will come out,” asserted Lankesh.
Lankesh also claimed that he had given material evidence on the alleged drug abuse among the Sandalwood actors.
A miffed Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) on Wednesday denied that some actors had drug links and urged police to investigate claims by Lankesh on the alleged nexus between the industry and suppliers of the banned substances.
“As Lankesh gave the names of a dozen Kannada actors to the CCB on August 31 and submitted some documents in support of his claims, we will take action if police proves the accused are guilty,” KFCC representative Sa Ra Govindu told reporters here.
Lankesh, 43, is the son of late noted editor P. Lankesh, who launched the popular “Lankesh Patrika” (weekly tabloid) in Kannada in the 1980s. He is also the elder brother of eminent journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead at her house in the city’s southwest suburb on September 5, 2017 by unidentified assailants.
“As I am associated with the film industry as a producer, director and writer, I came to know that some of the parties in the Sandalwood circle are hosted by drug mafias in the state,” recalled Lankesh.