Even as investigators braced themselves to probe the drug nexus in Tollywood, the Telangana government issued transfer orders to more than 240 officials from the Prohibition and Excise department staff.
According to reports, more than 192 excise inspectors and 20 excise superintendents were transferred on Tuesday, and 23 assistant commissioners are expected to be shifted on Wednesday.
The government has reportedly justified the move, stating that it issued orders based on various factors.
“We focused on efficiency in investigation, surveillance and administration, and transferred officials to key places. Similarly, we transferred those who have been at a post for long. Besides these, we also considered a few transfer requests,” department commissioner R.V. Chandravadan was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Prohibition and Excise Department of Telangana will question the artists including some leading actors and actresses over the next 11 days.
“The SIT will question them within the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court of India. The director of Enforcement Dr. Akun Sabharwal will supervise the process. The SIT will question film personalities from Wednesday to August 2. The interrogation process will be in a friendly atmosphere. The entire process will be transparent,” Chandravadan told Deccan Chronicle.
Well known director Puri Jagannadh is scheduled to appear before the team on the first day. He, however, is likely to send his advocate as he is said to be busy with shooting.
Actresses Charmee Kaur and Mumaith Khan are scheduled to be questioned on July 20 and July 21 respectively. Mumaith, actors Navdeep, Subbaraju and other celebrities have denied using drugs.
Leading actor Ravi Teja is scheduled to appear on July 24. Her mother Rajyalakshmi told the media on Monday that he does not take drugs and is not involved in the racket.
Actors Tarun, Nandu and Tanish, cinematographer Shyam K Naidu and art director Chinna are among other film personalities who have been summoned by the investigators on the basis of the evidence gathered from the accused.
The investigators will try to find out if the celebrities were only using the drugs or were also involved in peddling.
The racket caused a sensation as the authorities found that about 1,000 students of leading private schools and colleges in the city were using high-end drugs such as LSD and MDMA. They have issued advisories to over 50 schools and colleges to check the menace.
So far, 13 people have been arrested including US citizen Dundu Anish, an aerospace engineer who had earlier worked with the NASA.