Telugu film cinematographer Shyam K Naidu today appeared before the Telangana excise department's SIT for questioning in connection with a probe into the drug trade racket busted in the city.
Naidu is among 12 Tollywood personalities, including actors, directors and producers, against whom the department had last week issued notices under relevant sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, asking them to appear before its special investigation team (SIT).
SIT sleuths had yesterday grilled noted film director Puri Jagannadh for around 10 hours in connection with the cases registered after it busted the racket on July 2. The excise officials last night said the filmmaker cooperated with the investigators during his questioning.
Later, in a video message posted on his Twitter handle last night, Jagannadh said he had no links with Calvin Mascarenhas, a key accused arrested in the case, or his gang members and that he never met them.
"I do not indulge any illegal activity. I respect the police and I have done many films on the police department. I personally know some journalists. I feel bad because some of them showed me in a bad light in their TV programmes without knowing the facts and ruined our lives," he said in the video
"My mother and family members are also feeling bad about what is going on in TV channels. The media has disturbed me," Jagannadh, who is also a screen writer and producer, said.
Among the 13 people arrested so far in connection with the racket is a US citizen, identified as Dundu Anish, a former aerospace engineer who had worked with NASA, and seven BTech graduates, most of whom were working with multi-national companies here.
Names of some Tollywood personalities cropped up during the interrogation of the arrested people, the excise officials had earlier said, adding the focus of their investigation will be on whether they (to whom the notices were issued) were drug users, peddlers or suppliers.
The racketeers used to sell high-end drugs such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and methylenedioxy- methamphetamine (MDMA) after placing orders for them through darknet and got delivered the banned narcotics by courier.
In some cases, drugs were sent to them through courier from foreign countries. The SIT has asked officials of three major courier firms to come and meet them in connection with the probe into these cases. A letter has also been addressed to the chief post master general requesting support from the postal department.
LSD, sold as tablets and liquid, is known to be one of the most potent mood-changing chemicals, while MDMA, commonly referred to as molly or ecstasy, is a popular recreational or party drug.
According to investigators, the gang catered to nearly 1,000 customers, including students of city-based schools and colleges, a film producer, senior officials of MNCs, besides some employees of IT firms in Cyberabad.
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(With PTI Inputs)