Karnataka has been watching the spectacle of the Bengaluru drug racket. As more details emerge from under the surface, new cases are also coming to the fore. Both the NCB and CCB have been investigating the case.
Kannada actress Ragini Dwivedi was arrested due to 'links' to the organised drug racket in Bengaluru. The CCB made the arrest, since then more questions about the racket and the involvement of different individuals have been debated.
The drug bust
On August 21, the Narcotics Control Bureau busted a drug ring in Bengaluru, making the arrest of 3 kingpins. The NCB had seized 96 pills of MDMA, weighing 40 gm, and 180 LSD blots at drug peddler Ravindra's residence.
The second NCB raid at Royal Suites Hotel service apartment in Kalyan Nagar uncovered 145 MDMA pills weighing 60 gm seized along with Rs 2,20,500 cash where Anoop was allegedly operating from. The NCB then arrested Anikha D, the prime suspect in the case, from her home in Doddagubbi, she possessed 270 MDMA pills, weighing 111.6 gm, which were seized.
This is where the story came to light after the NCB uncovered a list of 2000 contacts including those with connections to film stars and big names in Sandalwood. The news of the drug bust unsettled the industry as rumours began to fly.
CCB's investigation in the Sandalwood drug racket
In the last week of August, the CCB seized 204 kgs of marijuana worth Rs 1 crore. Acting on a tip-off from a politician who wanted to expose the industry. Since then the police have been investigating the network of consumers and suppliers in the industry and trying to get to the links in the complex chain.
Indrajit Lankesh on the drug bust
After the news broke, many came forward to dispel rumours. However, filmmaker Indrajit Lankesh came forward to offer names and incidents in the case. While he spoke to Public TV on the matter he made it clear it was only a section of the industry was involved in the racket.
Soon after, Indrajit Lankesh was called in for questioning by the CCB to help fight drug-related crimes on Monday (August 31st), here he had disclosed 15 names. Soon after he was called in for questioning a second time to provide proof to his claims.
The Kerala connection
Parallelly, in the NCB's tracing of the drug trail from Bengaluru, it led the bureau to Kerala on Thursday. After two Keralites were arrested in connection to the drug bust who seemed to be connected to Bineesh Kodiyeri son of CPI(M) Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.
Here the NCB had reason to believe that members of the film fraternity in Kerala were also linked to the case. Balakrishnan said to the media, "No one is going to protect Bineesh. If he is found guilty let him be arrested. If he has committed any crime that needs to be hanged, let him be hanged."
The arrest of K Ravishankar
The CCB arrested K Ravishankar an RTO staffer with claimed links to the drug supply chain in Bengaluru. Speaking about it at a press briefing commissioner Kamal Pant had said that the police did their homework for a month before the arrest.
Ravishankar would attend celebrities parties including Ragini Dwivedi. They found illicit conversations on his phone with words like -- 'cheez', 'maal', 'dose', etc. according to reports in local media portals.
Two others Rahul Tonse and Viren Khanna, two drug peddlers were also arrested on Friday. These two also organised high-profile parties for celebrities in the industry as well.
The arrest of Ragini Dwivedi
On Friday, the CCB searched Ragini's house and called the Kannada actress in for questioning and arrested her in the evening, making it the first arrest of a Sandalwood actress in the case. Moreover, Ragini's name also showed up in Anikha's contact list becoming a major red flag in the case.
The CCB has now prepared a list of people to be questioned in connection to the case. Commissioner Kamal Pant said, "@CCBBangalore probing the drug menace in Bengaluru, have busted an organized narcotics ring where parties were held in hotels, resorts, private apartments etc., in & around Bengaluru."
Further, he added, "Drugs were also made available in the parties, besides the liquor. In this regard, 03 persons have been arrested including a clerk from the Transport Department," on Twitter.
Model Sanjjanaa Galrani has also been associated with the case and in her statement, she said, "Finally coming to the drug topic, of course, I have seen people drinking alcohol and partying in gettogether in clubs socialising, birthday party functions etc,. But beyond that I have nothing to do with it or no such "drugs" experience. It's very irritating to get forced by media to talk about something you don't know. I'm very saddened that our Kannada industry name is dragged into this and defamed. It is a temple for me and I am who I am because of the kannada industry."
The government's stand
On the matter of drugs in Sandalwood, the Karnataka government has also been facing criticism. As the matter escalates and more details come to the fore, the government is now considering implementing the 2012 panel report by the assembly's petitions committee against the drug menace.
State Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai has said that the government is aiming to implement the report with a focus not only on the film industry but education, industry and other sectors as well, on Friday.
The investigation into Bengaluru's drug racket is still on and far from over. However, more details will be published as and when received.