The Karnataka police unearthed a marijuana cultivation and distribution racket in Chitradurga district's Rampura a fortnight ago and seized 9,872 kilogram of marijuana, worth Rs 4.2 crore.
Although three persons were arrested in connection with the case three days ago, the police are yet to track down the prime suspect Rudresh, who was cultivating cannabis plants in a land he had rented from three brothers in Chitradurga, officials said.
After actor Ragini Dwivedi’s arrest on 4 September, the Rampura Police received a call from one of the locals, stating that they had seen cannabis plants being cultivated in Vaderahalli, located in Molakalmuru taluk.
A constable named Gundappa was sent to check whether the tip was true. When Guddappa went to Vaderahalli, the locals took him to a four-acre plot nearby and the police found that the entire plot had cannabis plants growing up to 4 feet.
“The locals were watching the news about drugs and realised that the crops growing in that plot was the ganja plant,” the Rampura police said.
Chitradurga Superintendent of Police G Radhika was called to the spot and the police slashed down the plants and loaded it into trucks as evidence. Upon questioning the locals, the Rampura police found that the plot belonged to three brothers, who are residents of Rampura.
The plot belongs to DB Manjunath, Y Manjunath, a teacher at the Thimmapur Government High School and the youngest brother DY Manjunath, the police said, adding that they immediately arrested the three men.
Around two years ago, a resident of Chitradurga, Samanthgouda, had allegedly approached the brothers stating that a man named Rudresh wanted to rent the four-acre plot to cultivate crops.
Samanthgouda was the mediator between the two parties. “There is no written agreement that the land was leased. The three brothers claim that they had a verbal agreement, where Rudresh would pay them Rs 90,000 per month to rent the land and Samanthgouda would get a commission from it. The brothers claim to have no knowledge about the ganja being cultivated,” the Rampura police said.
The police are now looking out for Rudresh as they believe that he was the primary cultivator. “We will arrest him soon. Only after his arrest can we find the distributors and peddlers. So far, we suspect that the ganja was being transported to districts across Karnataka as Rudresh has been cultivating it for a while. The plot is located between other plantations and unless one goes inside to see, it is hard to detect the ganja plants,” the police said.
Three days ago, Samanthgouda was arrested. The four persons are currently in judicial custody and have been booked under Section 120(b) (Criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 8 (prohibition of cultivation of cannabis plant), 20(a) (punishment for cultivation of cannabis plant) and 20(b) (rigorous imprisonment of 10 years or more for the cultivation of cannabis plant) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
(This article has been republished in arrangement with The News Minute)