Concerned with notices being sent to prominent Tollywood personalities by a Special Task Force (STF) of the Telangana's Prohibition and Excise department, over the recent drug bust in Hyderabad, industry veterans called a press meet on Wednesday.
Under the banner of Movie Artistes' Association (MAA), the meet was addressed by MAA President Shivaji Raja, veteran producers Allu Aravind, Daggubati Suresh Babu, actor and script writer Paruchuri Gopala Krishna, and actor Meka Srikanth, among others.
MAA president Shivaji Raja said, "The Telugu film industry has always promised to help anyone who is in trouble, and today we are faced with this. There are 30,000 in the industry, and even if 15-20 people do it, it is not even 0.001%. However, that image falls on all 30,000 people. We don't want that, so we will try to create awareness and move forward."
"In the recent past, there has been a lot of news about drugs. This is an evil in society. To eradicate this from the industry, we will try and do whatever is in our control. We will also hold awareness programs," Suresh Babu said.
"The city of Hyderabad will lose its charm, if this image comes out. Our industry is ahead in many things, but because of a few negative people, we do not want a bad image for our industry," he added.
Stating that 99.9% of the industry was clean, he commended the government and the police for the way it was handling this issue.
"As responsible industry people, we should see that the root of the problem is removed. We should catch those who are supplying the drugs, and also correct our people who are consuming it. That should be the aim. We will start awareness programs to say no to drugs, and also put them on treatment, to see that these things do not recur," he concluded.
Producer Allu Sirish said, "We learnt that some youngsters may be indulging in drugs. It may be just 10 of them, but that is affecting the entire industry. Inquisitiveness leads youngsters to 'taste' these drugs for the first time. Your entire life will get destroyed even with that one time."
Explaining how to spot those consuming drugs, he added, "When parties are often held with many industry people at a location, there will be four or five people, who separate from the main group, and consume the drugs in another room or corner. Then they will come back and mingle with the crowd. These kind of parties, happen not just in Bombay, but also in Hyderabad. It is better to avoid these parties."
Warning those who consumed drugs, to stop immediately, he said, "You are tracked in every way. The government has a clear list of who is involved. You may think that you can escape, but that's wrong. Your name is in the list, and you are being spared."
‚ÄúThe police are not trying to punish them, but help them. So, it is better that they come clean,‚ÄĚ he added.
"Nobody is perfect, but we should try to be. We (elders) want to tell the youngsters, to stop it. We are ready to help them, no matter who they are. We will treat them like they are our own children, if they come forward," Paruchuri Gopalakrishna said.
While officials investigating the case have remained tight-lipped about the names and identities of those consuming the drugs, media reports speculate that two prominent female actors and a director were among the drug dealers' clients.
Last week, a massive expose in Hyderabad revealed that over 1,000 students, some of them as young as 13, were using drugs like LSD and MDMA.
It was also reported that people from the film industry, hospitality, and MNCs were allegedly involved in the racket.
Officials managed to track down those consuming drugs in the industry, by tracing the call records of Calvin Mascarenhas, one of the accused in the case.
Notices have been sent under Section 67 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, which deals with benefit of doubt. More notices are expected to be sent shortly.
Those served notices, have to appear in front of the STF, within six days.
Watch the full press conference below.