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Is drug probe being given ”slow burial” under pressure?

Hyderabad,  Is the investigations in the drug racket, which gained nation-wide attention soon after it was busted by the SIT of the Excise Enforcement Directorate during early last month, is being given a slow burial?

Apprehensions in this regard are slowly gaining ground following the sudden and unexpected lull in the investigation by the SIT after the breakneck speed with which it had virtually launched a war against the nefarious activities of the drug mafia. As a matter of fact, the day-to-day progress in the probe has given a sense of relief to denizens, especially the shocked parents of school and college kids, who were being targeted by the drug mafia, that the vicious menace would be weeded out once for all.

Even Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao viewed the drug issue very seriously and directed the officers of the Excise and Prohibition Enforcement Directorate headed by Akun Sabharwal and Excise Commissioner Chandravadan to deal with the case with an iron hand and crush the drug menace and not spare anyone involved in the racket, however high and mighty they might be.

With the full support coming from the State administration, the SIT, constituted especially for the purpose, went all out to bust the drug racket from its roots. Consequently the mastermind and kingpin of the drug mafia Calvin Mascarenhas and his two associates were nabbed. Then the probe took a sensational when the investigating officials found a link between the drug mafia and Telugu film industry.

A euphoria was created when the SIT served notices on 12 film personalities, including noted film Director Puri Jagannath, film actors Ravi Teja, Varun and Navdeep and actresses Charmee Kaur and Mumaith Khan. For nearly ten days, the Tollywood artistes were interrogated one after another for hours together. Even blood, hair and nail samples were collected from some of them. Even owners of some pubs and bars, which were considered as “addas” for the drug peddlers to make available contraband narcotic substances like LSD, cocaine and so on to their clients were grilled.

However, like the calm after the storm, the booming guns of the SIT officials suddenly fell silent soon after the prolonged questioning and grilling of the Tollywood artistes. This has triggered speculations that there must be something more to it than meets the eye. In fact, when actress Charmee Kaur tried to take the SIT head-on by moving the High Court questioning the manner in which the investigations were being conducted and even succeeded in getting a relief of sorts from the court in refusing to give blood samples, it had raised many an eye brow that the move was nothing but putting a spanner in the wheel of the ongoing investigations. And truly it gave an impetus to many other film artistes after Charmee Kaur to refuse to give blood samples to the SIT.

That an attempt is diligently being made to dilute the drug investigations came to the fore what with various sections of Tollywood slowly raising their voice against the SIT investigations. Allegations began to be voiced that the “film industry was being singled out and targeted”. What is more, the Telugu film industry comprising of Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce, Movie Artistes’ Association, Telugu Film Producers Federation and Telangana State Film Chamber of Commerce have even addressed a letter to the Chief Minister requesting him to intervene in the matter and “ensure that investigation of film personalities is handled in a smooth way”.

What is intriguing is that the film industry on one side assured support and cooperation to the police and investigating authorities and at the same time asserted in the letter to the CM that “there is no proof available that persons without discipline and drug addicts have grown in the industry”. However, during the course of interrogation of Calvin and his associates and also the five member gang of Nigerians, including Sangeetha, the woman from Vijayawada who had earned notoriety as Lady Don” are understood to have disclosed names of their clientele comprising of persons coming from elite and influential families.

The revelation of names by the drug mafia undoubtedly seemed to have rattled many influential and powerful sections of the society and these sections exerting pressure on the powers-that-be in the State administration to “go slow” in the drug probe is not being ruled out. Thus many wonder whether the SIT has put the investigations in the drug racket on the back burner, going by the sudden lull in the probe of late, or is it like a calm before yet another storm.

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