The party’s been busted, finally. And looks like Sandalwood will soon be known as Scandalwood.
One of the most glamorous stars of the Kannada film industry, Ragini Dwivedi — popularly known as
Their arrest comes after journalist and Sandalwood director Indrajit
Sandalwood drug scandal: Bengaluru Police arrests Kannada film actress Ragini Dwivedi
Drugs and parties
This arrest has also blown the cover off Bengaluru’s party scene. Khanna, who used to host parties at five star hotels and pubs, was much sought after among Bengaluru’s swish set. Says a socialite, “There are two kinds of party people in Bengaluru – one is Mohammad Shah’s group, which consists of Irani girls and another is Viren Khanna’s crowd which comprises mostly foreigners. I have never been to these parties but I do know that both these groups host parties in exotic places.”
Another source who had gone to a Holi party hosted by Khanna says, “There was a lot of drinking and dancing but I didn’t see any visible use of drugs. Most of his parties were private, with a closed guest list. They were hosted at five star hotel bars and swanky places.”
“This is a big network of drug peddling and consumption. There are people like Viren Khanna who organise these high-end parties and give a platform for drug consumption. There are celebrities like film actresses and others who go there and consume drugs. Then there are drug suppliers like Ravi and Rahul, who peddle drugs bought from foreigners. We will be arresting accused involved in all three areas – organising parties, consumption and peddling,” said Sandeep Patil, Joint Commisioner of Police, Crime.
A heady mix of factors
In the last week of August, CCB busted a drug racket and seized 204 kg of
This is a big network of drug peddling and consumption. There are people like Viren Khanna who organise these high-end parties and give a platform for drug onsumption. There are celebrities like film actresses and others who go there and consume drugs. Then there are drug suppliers like Ravi and Rahul, who peddle drugs bought from foreigners.
— Sandeep Patil, Joint Commissioner of Police, Crime
For months, the CCB has been tracking a drug peddling racket in Bengaluru involving a government servant. Sleuths identified him as Ravishankar, aged 30, a native of Uttara Kannada, who worked as a First Division Assistant (FDA) at the Jayanagar Road Transport Office (RTO). CCB said he worked at the Registration of New Vehicles section of the RTO and would give fancy numbers to celebrities, VVIPs and industrialists. He would also attend parties with celebrities and was a close friend of Ragini Dwivedi for the past two years.
CCB sleuths arrested Ravishankar on Thursday and upon examining his phone, they found that his WhatsApp conversations with Ragini contained words like ‘dose, cheez, maal’ etc. Since the two were close friends, the CCB issued a notice to Ragini to appear before them for questioning.
When the CCB learnt that Ragini had uninstalled her WhatsApp and had even purchased a new mobile phone, her house in Yelahanka was raided by CCB sleuths on Friday morning. They seized four mobile phones and two laptops from her house. A suo motu case was registered against Ragini at the Cottonpet police station, booking her for destruction of evidence. She was subsequently arrested and taken into custody by CCB for further interrogation. CCB sources said she was not cooperating with the investigations.
CCB sleuths also secured Rahul Shetty in connection with drug peddling. Shetty, a realtor and architect, also claimed to be an interior designer and told the police that he had real estate interests in Sri Lanka and Goa. CCB sources said that Shetty ran a casino in Sri Lanka and he had befriended another actor from Sandalwood,
“We have arrested two persons and a few have been detained in this connection. We have information that these people consumed and also dealt with drugs,” said city police commissioner Kamal Pant.
Based on Ravishankar’s statement, CCB also detained one of his relatives, Karthik Raj, a resident of Cunningham Road, son of a doctor and a restaurateur in Koramangala for his involvement in a drug racket. CCB sources said Sandalwood actor Sharmila Mandre is a friend of Karthik Raj.
The sleuths have prepared a list of people including celebrities Sanjjana, Sharmila etc, kin of politicians, industrialists and their kin, all to be questioned. Summons will be issued to them shortly.
On March 16, 2019, Ravishankar had filed a complaint with the Ashok Nagar police after he and Shivaprakash, a real estate business and former friend of Ragini, had got into a fight at a five star hotel.
According to the police, Ravishankar had told that Shivaprakash that he did not like Shivaprakash getting close to her. Rumours were rife that Shivaprakash and Ragini were close friends and the two had fallen out after Ragini met Ravishankar.
Ragini is the first actor and a woman to be arrested despite the list comprising 15 names. Is Ragini Sandalwood’s Rhea Chakraborty? A soft target to vilify? According to a NCB official, MDMA (Ecstasy), LSD, Ketamine, hashish usage was common among the affluent sections of the society like Sandalwood artistes, musicians, children of business tycoons and industrialists while a lot of them also use
Vijayalakshmi Singh, who directed Kannada movies Modalaminchu, Thrayambakam and Missing Boy, wonders, “Did Lankesh’s list have names of heroes? So far, only names of three heroines are being discussed. It looks like only women actors are being targeted. Why not summon the heroes if their names feature on the list?’’ asked Singh.
Kavitha Lankesh, a well-known director and sister of Indrajit Lankesh, said the police should have maintained decorum while dealing with Ragini. “I am not against police questioning her but it should be done with decorum.’
The Ragini Dwivedi Foundation (RWD) was in the news recently when Ragini helped guest workers and Sandalwood artistes who had lost jobs during the lockdown. She had also supplied home-cooked food to doctors, nurses and others working at Victoria Hospital, in the covid ward.