Bollywood star Deepika Padukone questioned in India drugs probe

Top Bollywood star Deepika Padukone has been questioned by India’s narcotics agency in an escalating drugs probe following the death of young actor Sushant Singh Rajput earlier this year.

Padukone, 34, arrived at the Narcotics Control Board’s (NCB) office in Mumbai on Saturday after receiving a summons earlier this week while on a shooting stint in the western beach resort of Goa. Media reports say no drugs have been seized from her.

The NCB started the Bollywood drug probe after the death of Rajput, 34, whose body was found at his Mumbai residence in June.

According to the local media, Padukone was being questioned on whether she procured banned drugs for consumption following an interception of phone messages regarding making queries with local contacts.

She is among more than a dozen Bollywood professionals who have been questioned by the NCB in the past two weeks over the movie industry’s alleged links with drug peddlers and cartels.

Padukone’s manager Karishma Prakash was questioned on Friday.

Earlier this week, TV channel TimesNow broadcast sections of a WhatsApp conversation about procuring hash, alleging that the two people chatting were Padukone and her manager.

At least three other Bollywood actresses – Sara Ali Khan, Shraddha Kapoor and Rakul Preet Singh – have also been summoned by the NCB.

Kapoor and Khan, both daughters of famous Bollywood actors, appeared before the agency on Saturday, while Singh’s statement was recorded on Friday.

Filmmaker Karan Johar, who has also been a target of TV channels and social media users since Rajput’s death, on Friday said in a statement that allegations of narcotics being consumed at a party hosted by him in July last year at his residence were “false and baseless ”.

Johar’s response came after an old video from a star-studded party at his residence surfaced on social media.

While an investigation into Rajput’s death is continuing, the saga has morphed into a probe by authorities into drug-taking within Bollywood, a multibillion-dollar film industry.

Rajput’s death also sparked a media frenzy with India’s news channels speculating that his former girlfriend, actress Rhea Chakraborty, drove him to kill himself with narcotics and even black magic.

Rajput’s family disputed reports that he suffered from depression and openly accused Chakraborty, 28, of stealing his money and harassing him.

The actress, who denies any wrongdoing, was arrested earlier this month for allegedly buying cannabis for Rajput. Her arrest came after she and her family were hounded for months by the media.