Comparison of Sanjay Dutt’s case with Rhea’s is a glaring contrast: the actor was caught with drugs.
They hounded and tried to sniff her like Bloodhounds — as if on the trail of a drug peddler — and pounced on her like Rottweilers when she arrived at the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) for the first round of questioning on Sunday. The mics and the television cameras not only invaded Rhea Chakraborty’s mental and physical space as she entered the NCB headquarters, but they also exposed how the media can transform into a news-famished predator with the cacophony of questions and the gaggle of reporters chasing her like a pack of wolves.
Indians glued to TV channels who had already pronounced their verdict in declaring Rhea as the culprit in her boyfriend Sushant Singh Rajput’s death celebrated on social media on Tuesday after she was arrested and charged by the NCB with procuring drugs for the late actor, her bail plea rejected and sent to 14-day judicial custody.
The NCB’s alacrity in arresting Rhea is the major dissonance in the whole episode of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigating the case, which has been portrayed by several media outlets as of a gullible successful actor hoodwinked financially, drained emotionally and driven to death by a self-aggrandising, selfish and conniving upcoming actress.
It took a mere 59 gm of curated marijuana for the NCB to hinge its case and connect the dots that led to Rhea’s arrest. The most shocking aspect of the case is that the marijuana was found neither on Rhea nor her brother Showik, but Abbas Lakhani and Karan Arora, who are allegedly connected to people close to Sushant.
Though no drugs were found in the possession of Rhea and her brother, the NCB claims to have proof that they procured marijuana for Sushant with the help of his house manager and Samuel Miranda and house help Dipesh Sawant. Interestingly, Sawant told the NCB during his interrogation that he had seen the late actor smoke up since September 2018 — before Rhea started dating him.
Under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, possession of marijuana is illegal. So, on what basis Rhea has been arrested? No marijuana or any other drugs were found on her. Even NCB deputy director general (south west) Mutha Ashok Jain told the media that no drugs were found on her, according to reports. But the NCB has declared her “an active member of the drug syndicate connected with drug supplies”.
Bollywood is infamous for the use of drugs. The tinsel town is replete with examples of celebs who either consumed drugs or were caught with psychotropic substances or while purchasing them. One of the early A-listers and Bollywood strongman who made headlines for drug abuse in the 80s is Sanjay Dutt. Lovingly called Baba by his fans, Dutt, who was a cocaine and heroin addict, landed in jail for drugs possession in 1982 and was subsequently sent to a rehab centre in the US.
Comparison of Dutt’s case with Rhea’s is a glaring contrast: the actor was caught with drugs. A person can only be arrested while he/she is in possession of drugs or purchasing such substances—this was not the case with Rhea.
A similar case in point was the arrest of late actor Feroz Khan’s son Fardeen in 2001, when he was found purchasing cocaine—again, a stark contrast to Rhea’s arrest.
Shahrukh Khan’s wife Gauri was held at the Berlin airport with a small quantity of marijuana; Ranbir Kapoor has admitted smoking pot and Hrithik Roshan’s former wife Sussanne Khan allegedly did drugs. There are other small-time actors who fizzled out but made headlines due to their drug addiction. But Rhea’s case crumbles when compared to these episodes.
Bollywood is just one example where drugs are peddled and used. The eponymous Naga sadhus of Kumbh Mela flaunt smoking ganja, which has become a permanent fixture of the spiritual jamboree, held after every 12 years. Even the Aghoris, who trigger revulsion and horror in the common man, have an unbreakable bond with the chillum. The fascination of Naga sadhus and the Aghoris with marijuana and Charas is their psychedelic rock which triggers hallucination of being one with the Almighty.
The use of cocaine, marijuana and LSD is rampant in high-society parties of metropolises, at night clubs and rave parties. Procurement of drugs by the rich and powerful is a phone call away. Peddling and use of drugs in tourist hotspots like Goa and Manali are so rampant that it is now considered pretty normal.
Use of marijuana at universities and behind closed doors of hostels happens right under the nose of the police with a strong nexus between drug peddlers and students.
Substance abuse is rampant in India. According to the ‘National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India 2019, conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, and the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, “a substantial number of people use psychoactive substances in India, and substance use exists in all the population groups.”
The survey points out that about 2.8 percent of the population (3.1 crore individuals) used cannabis in one form or another in 2018. Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Sikkim, Chhattisgarh and Delhi topped the list of the highest use of cannabis. The authors of the survey said that about 2.26 crore individuals use opioids like opium, heroin and a variety of pharmaceutical opioids.
“Nationally, the most common opioid used is heroin (1.14 per cent) followed by pharmaceutical opioids (0.96 per cent) and opium (0.52 per cent). “Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram have the highest prevalence of opioid use in the general population.”
If we go by Rhea’s WhatsApp messages retrieved by the NCB that are allegedly related to the procurement of drugs for Sushant, then the Bureau has a tough task at hand: it will have to arrest countless drug peddlers and their innumerable customers in Bollywood and the upper class and students—don’t forget the sadhu taking a drag on the roadside.
Each of the theories based on which the NCB, the CBI and the ED set their sleuths off in scent of a conspiracy theory in Sushant’s death has crumbled so far. The NCB hasn’t found drugs on Rhea, the CBI has ruled out murder so far and the ED hasn’t found any evidence of transfer of Rs 15 crore from his account to hers as alleged by Sushant’s father.
Sushant wasn’t an adolescent or teenager who had lost his mental faculties and mistook marijuana as regular smokes or was brainwashed by Rhea. It has been conclusively established that he was suffering from depression and anxiety and was under medication. Irrespective of the final reports submitted by the three probe agencies, it is premature and criminal to declare Rhea as the villain in Sushant’s death.
Views expressed are personal.
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