Political storm over drug scandal forces top excise official to cancel leave
As the investigations into the massive drug bust involving some of the top names in Telugu film industry intensified, Excise and Prohibition Director Akun Sabharwal on Saturday cancelled his leave.
He took the decision after the news of his proceeding on leave created a ruckus with the Opposition suspecting a foul. Leaders of the Congress, the TDP and the BJP alleged political pressure on Sabharwal to go slow in the probe forcing him to go on leave. Though Sabharwal clarified that he had planned his leave long ago, the Opposition did not buy it.
Cancelling his leave, he said on Saturday, “I will not go on leave till the investigations are completed. I have taken the decision in view of the seriousness of the case”. He clarified that the Government was extending full support to the probe.
Union Minister of State Bandaru Dattayreya (BJP) also summoned the meeting of officials of Narcotics Control Bureau to discuss the measures against the drug menace. He said the pub culture in the two Telugu States was pushing the youth into the drugs. He urged the CMs of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to make the States free of pub cultures.
Meanwhile, CM K Chandrasekhar Rao has also personally directed the officials to expedite the probe and clean up the mess. In the backdrop of some politicians making critical remarks against Sabharwal, the CM personally spoke to a top official and asked them not to spare anybody irrespective their position, sources said.
The officials admit that they were under pressure from a couple of ministers and senior officials to go slow but the Chief Minister's clear instructions have come as a shot in the arm.
Sources said that some ministers were unhappy with the Excise and Prohibition (E&P) department for issuing notices to a few schools whose students were found to be sealed in the drug tentacles.
The managements of these schools were politically well connected.
Similarly the imminent action against some of the film personalities has also raised the heckles as they had also close links with the politicos.
The department has already issued notices to 12 films personalities including top heroes, heroines, directors and they have acknowledged receiving the notices.
Thorough the department has not made their names public speculations were rife about various names. One of them Tarun has confirmed that he received the notice but another actor Nandoo denied it. The other names doing the round two famous actresses Charmme Kaur and Mumaith Khan, one of the the top director Puri Jagannath, actor Ravi Teja. The department has asked them to appear for questioning between July 19 and 26.
Sources said that similar notices will be issued 15 more film personalities including prominent names.
The breakthrough into the links between the drug peddler and film industry came when the investigators found the mobile numbers of film personalities in the phone of one alleged drug peddler Calvin Mascarenhas. The modus operandi involved use of Whatsapp for making contacts and the drivers and servants and assistants of the film personalities will collect the drugs on their behalf.
“The links between the drug peddlers and the Tollywood is not new”, said a senior official.
A Probe was launched a few years ago into these link but the case was buried under tremendous political pressure.
At least five such cases were registered during last seven years, latest being in 2015 when a erector Sushant Reddy was arrested carrying drugs.
Officials believe that some event managers and industry insiders were also involved in this trade as they find ready buyers of the narcotics substances.
One such event manager Piyush Auluck was arrested by the narcotics wing of the Excise department on Friday and discovered a lab at his home in East Marredpally.
Piyush, an engineer by background had not only procured LSD from Germany and Britain but was manufacturing fake LSD on his own by mixing various substances and pills.
Piyush who had become addicted to drugs during student days later turned a manufacturer and peddler. A large quantity of cocaine and other substances were recovered from his house.
13 persons arrested so far on charges of drug peddling include two event managers.
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