Glamour, Raves & Sandalwood: Decoding Bengaluru’s Drug Racket

Thirteen persons, including Kannada actors Ragini and Sanjana, have been arrested in the Bengaluru drug racket case.

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Kannada actor Ragini Dwivedi has been detained in a drugs case.
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Snapshot

The Central Crime Branch (CCB) of Bengaluru police, as part of its investigation into an alleged drug racket, has arrested 13 people including two actors – Ragini Dwivedi and Sanjana – from the Kannada film industry, also known as ‘Sandalwood’.

According to the CCB, those arrested in the case are part of a network of people that organised parties in hotels, pubs, resorts and farmhouses. At these parties, drugs sourced from various parts of the country were supplied to the guests.

Here is how the alleged drug racket case in Bengaluru has unfolded so far.

Glamour, Raves & Sandalwood: Decoding Bengaluru’s Drug Racket

  1. 1. Opening a Can Of Worms

    On 21 August, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) raided Nikoo Homes, an upscale gated community in Bengaluru. During the search, they seized 96 pills of MDMA, weighing 40 grams, and 180 LSD blots. They also seized a diary from one of the prime accused, Anikha D, which allegedly contains the names of 15 celebrities – including actors, musicians, models and reality TV actors – from Karnataka.

    At the same time, Bengaluru police’s CCB had also seized a large quantity of marijuana. While interrogating the accused, the CCB learned that Ravishankar, a clerk at the Regional Transport Office in Jayanagar, was allegedly involved in procuring drugs and used to attend high-end rave parties in Bengaluru.

    Inputs from both these cases are said to have kicked off the investigation into the drug racket.

    Expand
  2. 2. The Initial Investigation & FIR

    Bengaluru police commissioner Kamal Pant.
    Bengaluru police commissioner Kamal Pant.
    (Photo: PTI)

    On 3 September, the CCB arrested Ravishankar. After questioning him for six hours, police seized his cellphone and found photos and other evidence about the people who attended these parties with him.

    In the FIR that followed, the police have named 12 accused, including Bollywood star Vivek Oberoi’s brother-in-law Aditya Alva. According to the police, those named in the FIR are part of a network of people who organised parties where drugs were supplied.

    The FIR names Shivaprakash – a realtor and former friend of actress Ragini Dwivedi – as one of the prime accused. CCB officials suspect that Shivaprakash was peddling drugs and organising high-end parties.

    The other accused mentioned in the FIR include Prashanth Ranka, who is accused of supplying drugs at big parties; Viren Khanna, who is accused of organising the drug parties; and Rahul, who is accused of sourcing drugs from peddlers.

    The FIR also mentions the names of Vaibhav Jain, Prashanth Raju, Ashwin, Abhiswami, Rahul Thonshe and Vinay, however, their role in the case has not been disclosed by the CCB.

    The accused have been booked under Sections 21C, 27B, 27A, 29, 21 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, and also for criminal conspiracy.

    Expand
  3. 3. Source of the Drugs

    Loum Pepper Samba, an African national accused of supplying drugs.
    Loum Pepper Samba, an African national accused of supplying drugs.
    (Photo: Bengaluru police)

    The CCB, on 5 September, arrested Loum Pepper Samba, an African national, who was allegedly supplying drugs to the accused. Samba’s arrest was based on information given by Ravishankar, who was arrested during an earlier drug bust.

    Ravishankar allegedly claimed to have procured party drugs from Samba. Ravishankar is also allegedly a friend of actor Ragini Dwivedi. Many pictures and videos have surfaced in the media that show Ragini and Ravi at various parties. This led the police to Ragini.

    Expand
  4. 4. Ragini’s Questioning & Arrest

    Kannada actor Ragini Dwivedi appearing for questioning.
    Kannada actor Ragini Dwivedi appearing for questioning.
    (Photo: Bengaluru police)

    It was as part of this investigation that the police searched Ragini’s house. Ragini debuted in the film industry in 2009 with ‘Veera Madakari’ and gained fame for stellar roles in movies such as ‘Kempe Gowda’, ‘Ragini IPS’, ‘Bangari’ and ‘Shiva’.

    Three mobile phones and a laptop were seized from her house during the raid, which are now being examined. Hours later, Bengaluru police announced the actor’s arrest and she is currently in police custody.

    The CCB alleged that the actor and others named in the case have contacts with drug peddlers from Goa, Mumbai, Punjab, AP, Kerala, and also with suppliers from foreign countries who are settled in various parts of India.

    Expand
  5. 5. Actor Sanjana Arrested

    Actor Sanjana Galrani was also arrested during the probe into the drug racket.
    Actor Sanjana Galrani was also arrested during the probe into the drug racket.
    (Photo: Facebook)

    The CCB, on 8 September, as part of its ongoing investigation, raided actor Sanjana Galrani’s house. Sanjana is a multilingual actor who has acted in over 45 films, predominantly in Kannada and Telugu.

    CCB sources said that during the questioning of the other accused in custody, Sanjana's name had emerged. Soon after, a search warrant was obtained from the courts and she was taken into custody.

    While CCB is yet to release an official statement on the raid on Sanjana’s house, sources said Rahul Thonshe, a friend of Ragini and an accused in the case, gave information about Sanjana’s involvement in the case.

    Expand
  6. 6. The Politics of Drugs

    Days after these arrests were reported, some BJP leaders claimed they were a part of their government’s campaign for a ‘drug-free Karnataka’. But, these claims backfired when photos of Ragini, campaigning for the BJP along with Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa’s son, emerged on social media.

    These photos were taken during the 2019 Assembly elections campaign.

    The party soon distanced itself from Ragini and claimed she was not part of the BJP’s campaign.

    BJP state president Nalin Kumar Kateel issued a statement, saying the party would walk the extra mile to support the government’s efforts in the fight against the drug mafia.

    “BJP is closely watching the ongoing probe into the drug mafia. The scale, the speed, the grit, the determination and the meticulousness with which the police is dealing with this dangerous racket is laudable,” he said.

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    Expand

Opening a Can Of Worms

On 21 August, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) raided Nikoo Homes, an upscale gated community in Bengaluru. During the search, they seized 96 pills of MDMA, weighing 40 grams, and 180 LSD blots. They also seized a diary from one of the prime accused, Anikha D, which allegedly contains the names of 15 celebrities – including actors, musicians, models and reality TV actors – from Karnataka.

At the same time, Bengaluru police’s CCB had also seized a large quantity of marijuana. While interrogating the accused, the CCB learned that Ravishankar, a clerk at the Regional Transport Office in Jayanagar, was allegedly involved in procuring drugs and used to attend high-end rave parties in Bengaluru.

Inputs from both these cases are said to have kicked off the investigation into the drug racket.

The Initial Investigation & FIR

Bengaluru police commissioner Kamal Pant.
Bengaluru police commissioner Kamal Pant.
(Photo: PTI)

On 3 September, the CCB arrested Ravishankar. After questioning him for six hours, police seized his cellphone and found photos and other evidence about the people who attended these parties with him.

In the FIR that followed, the police have named 12 accused, including Bollywood star Vivek Oberoi’s brother-in-law Aditya Alva. According to the police, those named in the FIR are part of a network of people who organised parties where drugs were supplied.

The FIR names Shivaprakash – a realtor and former friend of actress Ragini Dwivedi – as one of the prime accused. CCB officials suspect that Shivaprakash was peddling drugs and organising high-end parties.

The other accused mentioned in the FIR include Prashanth Ranka, who is accused of supplying drugs at big parties; Viren Khanna, who is accused of organising the drug parties; and Rahul, who is accused of sourcing drugs from peddlers.

The FIR also mentions the names of Vaibhav Jain, Prashanth Raju, Ashwin, Abhiswami, Rahul Thonshe and Vinay, however, their role in the case has not been disclosed by the CCB.

The accused have been booked under Sections 21C, 27B, 27A, 29, 21 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, and also for criminal conspiracy.

Source of the Drugs

Loum Pepper Samba, an African national accused of supplying drugs.
Loum Pepper Samba, an African national accused of supplying drugs.
(Photo: Bengaluru police)

The CCB, on 5 September, arrested Loum Pepper Samba, an African national, who was allegedly supplying drugs to the accused. Samba’s arrest was based on information given by Ravishankar, who was arrested during an earlier drug bust.

Ravishankar allegedly claimed to have procured party drugs from Samba. Ravishankar is also allegedly a friend of actor Ragini Dwivedi. Many pictures and videos have surfaced in the media that show Ragini and Ravi at various parties. This led the police to Ragini.

Ragini’s Questioning & Arrest

Kannada actor Ragini Dwivedi appearing for questioning.
Kannada actor Ragini Dwivedi appearing for questioning.
(Photo: Bengaluru police)

It was as part of this investigation that the police searched Ragini’s house. Ragini debuted in the film industry in 2009 with ‘Veera Madakari’ and gained fame for stellar roles in movies such as ‘Kempe Gowda’, ‘Ragini IPS’, ‘Bangari’ and ‘Shiva’.

Three mobile phones and a laptop were seized from her house during the raid, which are now being examined. Hours later, Bengaluru police announced the actor’s arrest and she is currently in police custody.

The CCB alleged that the actor and others named in the case have contacts with drug peddlers from Goa, Mumbai, Punjab, AP, Kerala, and also with suppliers from foreign countries who are settled in various parts of India.

Actor Sanjana Arrested

Actor Sanjana Galrani was also arrested during the probe into the drug racket.
Actor Sanjana Galrani was also arrested during the probe into the drug racket.
(Photo: Facebook)

The CCB, on 8 September, as part of its ongoing investigation, raided actor Sanjana Galrani’s house. Sanjana is a multilingual actor who has acted in over 45 films, predominantly in Kannada and Telugu.

CCB sources said that during the questioning of the other accused in custody, Sanjana's name had emerged. Soon after, a search warrant was obtained from the courts and she was taken into custody.

While CCB is yet to release an official statement on the raid on Sanjana’s house, sources said Rahul Thonshe, a friend of Ragini and an accused in the case, gave information about Sanjana’s involvement in the case.

The Politics of Drugs

Days after these arrests were reported, some BJP leaders claimed they were a part of their government’s campaign for a ‘drug-free Karnataka’. But, these claims backfired when photos of Ragini, campaigning for the BJP along with Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa’s son, emerged on social media.

These photos were taken during the 2019 Assembly elections campaign.

The party soon distanced itself from Ragini and claimed she was not part of the BJP’s campaign.

BJP state president Nalin Kumar Kateel issued a statement, saying the party would walk the extra mile to support the government’s efforts in the fight against the drug mafia.

“BJP is closely watching the ongoing probe into the drug mafia. The scale, the speed, the grit, the determination and the meticulousness with which the police is dealing with this dangerous racket is laudable,” he said.

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