Bollywood stars questioned in drug probe

Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in his Mumbai apartment in June.
Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in his Mumbai apartment in June.

One of Bollywood's top female actors has been questioned by India's narcotics watchdog as part of ongoing investigations linked to the suspected suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

Award-winning actor Deepika Padukone was summoned in a drugs probe linked to the 34-year-old actor's death, Narcotics Control Bureau officials in Mumbai said on Saturday.

Padukone was questioned for over five hours and footage on news channels showed her leaving the NCB office on Saturday evening.

Popular actresses Shraddha Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan were also questioned in connection with the probe.

At least 50 others connected with the Mumbai film industry, including actors, are also under the scanner, News 18 television channel reported.

Initial investigations into Rajput's death led to the arrest of his girlfriend, Rhea Chakraborty, on charges of procuring cannabis for the actor.

The NCB has made at least 10 arrests including Chakraborty's brother, suspected suppliers and Rajput's domestic help.

Padukone is the most high-profile person connected with investigations so far.

She is one of Bollywood's highest paid female actors and starred alongside Vin Diesel in the 2017 film "XXX: Return of Xander Cage."

There were no charges against Padukone and she was summoned for questioning as her name came up during the NCB's investigations on the film industry's links with drug cartels, NDTV news channel cited NCB sources as saying.

Several of the summons for questioning the actors, Padukone included, are based on whether they procured banned drugs for consumption, following the interception of their WhatsApp chat messages.

Rajput, 34, was found dead in his Mumbai apartment in June.

As local police began investigations, Rajput's father KK Singh, filed a complaint with police saying the Mumbai Police was not investigating the case properly and that Rajput's girlfriend had embezzled money from the actor.

Rajput's family also accused Chakraborty of abetting his suicide by giving him drugs that worsened his mental health issues.

Rajput's death and subsequent investigations have been dominating headlines in India for months, often pushing its war with the coronavirus pandemic and the India-China border tensions into the background.

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Australian Associated Press