Tollywood drugs case: Actor Rana Daggubati appears before ED

Hyderabad: Tollywood actor Rana Daggubati on Wednesday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money laundering probe linked to a 2017 drug case.

The ‘Baahubali’ fame actor reached the ED office here around 10 a.m. and walked in as a posse of security personnel escorted him through a battery of media lensmen vying with each other to capture the moment.

Rana is likely to be questioned by ED sleuths about his bank details and financial transactions as part of the probe into suspected links of some celebrities with the accused involved in the case.

Rana is the fifth Tollywood personality to appear before ED. Director Puri Jagannadh and actors Charmee Kaur, Rakul Preet Singh and Nandu were questioned since August 31.

The ED had last month issued notices to 10 persons connected to Tollywood and two others including a private club manager as part of a money laundering probe linked to the case related to the smuggling of ‘Class A’ narcotic substances, including LSD and MDMA.

Nandu was questioned for more than eight hours on Tuesday. Main accused in the case Calvin Mascarenhas and two others were also grilled by the ED sleuths on Tuesday.

Actors Ravi Teja, Navdeep. Mumaith Khan, Tanish and Ravi Teja’s driver Srinivas have also been summoned by the ED in connection the drugs racket which was busted with the arrest of drug peddlers in 2017.

Rana and Rakul Preet did not figure in the list of Tollywood celebrities questioned by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Telangana’s prohibition and excise department in 2017.

However, Rakul Preet was questioned by the Narcotics Control Bureau, Mumbai, last year in an alleged drugs nexus in Bollywood.

The drugs racket was busted on July 2, 2017 when customs officials arrested Calvin Mascarenhas, a musician, and two others and seized drugs worth Rs 30 lakh from their possession.

They had reportedly told the investigators that they are supplying drugs to film celebrities, software engineers, and even students of some corporate schools. Mobile numbers of some Tollywood celebrities were allegedly found in their contact lists.

The excise department had constituted SIT for a comprehensive probe. A total of 12 cases were registered, 30 people were arrested while 62 individuals including 11 people connected with Tollywood were examined by the SIT under section 67 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and section 161 of Criminal Procedure Code.

The SIT had collected blood, hair, nail and other samples from some of those who appeared before it for question and sent them for analysis.

The SIT filed charge sheet in eight out of 12 cases. It, however, gave clean chit to the film personalities who were questioned as part of the investigation.