Central Crime Branch (CCB) officials on Wednesday questioned actor-couple Aindrita Ray and Diganth Manchale for over four hours to ascertain their possible roles in the drug racket involving the Kannada film industry. Their names cropped up during the course of the investigation with alleged links to Sheikh Faazil, one of the accused who is absconding, said the police.
CCB officials questioned the star couple separately and recorded their statements before allowing them to leave.
The police have seized two mobile phones from the couple. The devices have been sent to the forensic science laboratory. We have reason to believe that messages crucial to the investigation were deleted from the phones, said a senior police official.
We have questioned them in detail, but they will be summoned for further enquiry at a later date, said Sandeep Patil, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime).
Faazil has been accused of organising gambling parties at a casino in Sri Lanka and also in India, where drugs were sold. The CCB questioned the couple about their affiliations with him and other accused, and if they attended any of the parties.
Call record details show that Aindrita had attended parties hosted by Sheikh Faazil in India and even in Sri Lanka. They were at the same parties that Aditya Alva attended, said a senior CCB official.
Sources in the department said that the couple denied having anything to do with the drug racket but acknowledged that they are friends with some of the accused and used to chat and communicate with them regularly. They also admitted to attending some of the parties, but denied having knowledge of drug use, the official added.
Aindrita and Diganth have close ties with actress Ragini Dwivedi, who is currently in judicial custody, and also allegedly with the prime accused Shiva Prakash and Ravi Shankar.
On exiting the CCB headquarters after being questioned, the actors told the media that they are cooperating with the police. However, they refused to divulge details citing that it would hamper ongoing investigations.
Foreign national and two others arrested
The Central Crime Branch police on Wednesday arrested a foreign national from Africa, Benald Udenna, for allegedly selling drugs at parties attended by Bengalurus elite, including film stars. One of the people arrested in the case was in contact with him, said police officials, adding that Udenna was identified while analysing call record details.
According to Sandeep Patil, Joint Commissioner of Police, Udenna was operating under different names. The CCB team probing the case found three names, including coke and John, in the call record details of the accused. Further investigations led the police to Udenna who was operating with three different names using three different mobile phones, said Mr. Patil.
In a separate bust, the CCBs anti narcotics cell arrested two more peddlers and recovered drugs worth 4 lakh from them. The accused John Nicolas, 21, and Irfan Sheikh, 29, from Kothanur were waiting in a car on M.G. Road to sell the drugs to their customers.
The police recovered 50 jellies of TeTetrahydrocannabinol (THC, a form of cannabis), 34 ecstasy pills and 27 LSD strips worth 4 lakh from them. The accused allegedly told the police that they had purchased the drugs from their contact, identified as Ashwin. The police also recovered two mobile phones from the accused. Efforts are on to track down Ashwin, said the police.
Sanjjanaa in judicial custody
The 1st Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court remanded Kannada actor Sanjjanaa Galrani to judicial custody on Wednesday. Prior to this, she had been in police custody for eight days. She was taken to K.C. General Hospital for a medical examination and was produced in court through video conferencing. The court remanded her to three days in judicial custody.
Sanjjanas bail application at a special court is scheduled for Friday.
Two other accused in the case, Viren Khanna and Ravi Shankar, have been remanded to 14 days judicial custody.
19.5 kg of marijuana seized
Its not just the CCB that is actively cracking down on drug dealers and users in the city. The North division police arrested five people, two of whom are from Nigeria, for allegedly peddling drugs in two cases. Around 19.5 kg of marijuana and six grams of cocaine were recovered from them on Tuesday.
The Nigerian nationals, Thomas, 46, and Ekechukwa Daneil, 39, were caught red-handed while they were waiting to deliver contraband to their customers at GKW Layout. The police recovered 6 grams of cocaine and marijuana from them.
They had come to the city on business visas to sell ready-made clothes after buying apparel in bulk from Tamil Nadu. But it was just a cover for their drug peddling business, a police officer said .
The duo allegedly confessed to sourcing drugs from a local contact, identified as Rajesh, who is on the run.
The Peenya police arrested two youth Santosh, 22, and Manjunath, 24, from Nelagadaranahalli while they were allegedly trying to sell 2.3 kg of marijuana to clients.