Bollywood superstar Deepika Padukone has been summoned for questioning as part of an escalating drugs probe into the suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, police said yesterday.
Others summoned by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) include actresses Sara Ali Khan, Shraddha Kapoor and Rakul Preet Singh.
The investigation has already seen actress Rhea Chakraborty arrested for allegedly buying drugs for her former boyfriend Rajput, who was found dead in June in his Mumbai apartment – with police saying he took his own life.
A star with many hit movies to his name, the 34-year-old’s suicide initially triggered a debate over mental health in the film industry.
But his family disputed reports that he suffered from depression and accused Chakraborty, 28, of stealing his money and harassing him.
She has strongly denied the allegations.
Rajput’s death has sparked a media storm in India, where calls have mounted for a wider probe into Bollywood’s so-called “drugs mafia”, with television channels speculating that Chakraborty supposedly drove Rajput to suicide by purchasing cannabis for him.
The Central Bureau of Investigation has been probing his death since last month.
The NCB was looking into his consumption of cannabis.
Earlier this week, TimesNow network broadcast sections of a WhatsApp conversation about procuring hash, alleging that the two people chatting were Padukone and her manager Karishma Prakash.
K P S Malhotra, deputy director of the NCB, said the agency had also summoned Prakash and Rajput’s former manager Shruti Modi for questioning.
The police have already detained others in connection with the case including Chakraborty’s brother Showik and a member of Rajput’s house staff.
The investigation has grabbed headlines for months, and some celebrities including actresses Vidya Balan and Sonam Kapoor have accused TV channels of carrying out a “witch hunt” against Chakraborty.
Sara is the daughter of noted actor Saif Ali Khan and Amrita Singh, while Shradhha is the daughter of veteran actor Shakti Kapoor.
Padukone is the daughter of the badminton icon Prakash Padukone and is married to Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh.
According to media reports, Padukone is shooting for a film in Goa.
Officials denied that the NCB has issued summons to actress Dia Mirza.
Also yesterday, Madhu Mantena Verma, a noted producer, who gave blockbusters like Udta Punjab and Ghajini, deposed before the NCB.
Meanwhile, actress and Congress politician Nagma asked why the NCB has not yet summoned Bollywood star Kangana Ranaut, who has admitted to taking drugs in the past.
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