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Bollywood star Deepika Padukone questioned in drugs case

Posted By : Vincent Ashitey

Bollywood star Deepika Padukone is being questioned by India's narcotics board in an investigation linked to the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

Padukone is among six people to be summoned - two other actresses will also be questioned on Saturday.

Rajput's girlfriend, Rhea Chakraborty, was arrested earlier this month for allegedly buying drugs for him - claims she has denied.

The case has fuelled months of media coverage and speculation in India.

Actresses Sara Ali Khan and Shraddha Kapoor are among those who will be questioned on Saturday, according to news reports. Another actress, Rakul Preet Singh, was questioned on Friday.

Rajput, 34, was found dead in his flat in Mumbai on 14 June. Police at the time said he had killed himself.

But his family later registered a police complaint against Chakraborty, accusing her of abetment to suicide and other crimes, all of which she has denied.

The case is now being investigated by three federal agencies.

With investigators drip-feeding nuggets of information to the media, rumours and conjecture over what happened and who is responsible have been rife.

What is the case?

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) seems to be pursuing two investigations - the first into Rhea Chakraborty, her brother and Rajput's former house manager.

All three were arrested for allegedly organising and financing the actor's alleged consumption of cannabis. They have denied any wrongdoing.

The second investigation, which followed on from the first, is into claims of widespread use of drugs in Bollywood, according to local media.


Actress Sara Ali Khan is among those summoned by the narcotics agency

Officials have been sparing with the details of the investigation, which has only added to the air of mystery.

Within days of Rajput's death, attention switched to Chakraborty, who found herself at the centre of a storm of allegations and conspiracy theories.

As part of their investigation, NCB officials said they were looking into WhatsApp chat messages in which Chakraborty was supposedly discussing narcotics.

While marijuana is illegal in India, a derivative of it - called bhang - is legal and commonly used.

What does Deepika Padukone have to do with it?

It's not really clear yet.

Narcotics officials say their questioning is based on WhatsApp chats involving Padukone and her managers, according to local media reports. But it's still unclear what these messages contain.

Some say she's being targeted because in January she visited a university where a group of students had been attacked on campus allegedly by a mob of rival students linked to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). BJP supporters had accused the actress of cynically mining publicity for her new film and on Twitter, they had asked people to boycott it.

According to the Times of India, officials claim that some drug dealers they questioned have named a few other actresses.

Sushant Singh Rajput started dating Chakraborty in 2019

Social media users have also been asking why only actresses - and not actors - have been called in for questioning.

But a case that began with an investigation into an actor's death has spiralled into something else altogether in the weeks since.

And now with a string of Bollywood insiders in sudden focus, the media circus around the case has only grown, taking over national headlines and social media feeds in the country.