Bollywood star Deepika Padukone questioned in drugs probe

Deepika Padukone was summoned earlier this week for questioning by the Narcotics Control Bureau in Mumbai. PHOTO: AFP

MUMBAI (AFP) - Indian police hauled in Bollywood megastar Deepika Padukone for questioning on Saturday (Sept 26) in an escalating drugs probe following the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

Mr Rajput was found dead in his apartment in June, sparking a media frenzy, with rolling news channels speculating that his former girlfriend, actress Rhea Chakraborty, drove him to kill himself with narcotics and even black magic.

Mr Rajput's family disputed reports that he suffered from depression and openly accused Ms Chakraborty, 28, of stealing his money and harassing him.

The actress, who denies any wrongdoing and who has been hounded for months by the media together with her family, was arrested earlier this month for allegedly buying cannabis for Mr Rajput, and this week was denied bail.

The saga has now morphed into a probe by the authorities into drug-taking within the multi-billion-dollar industry.

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Sushant Singh Rajput, a rising Bollywood star, has been found dead at his home with local media reporting that the actor committed suicide. He was 34.

Ms Padukone, 34, one of Bollywood's biggest stars, was summoned earlier this week for questioning by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in Mumbai as well as actresses Sara Ali Khan, Shraddha Kapoor and Rakul Preet Singh.

Ms Singh's statement was recorded on Friday.

Ms Kapoor and Ms Khan were are also expected to appear before the NCB on Saturday.

Earlier this week, TV channel TimesNow broadcast sections of a WhatsApp conversation about procuring hash, alleging that the two people chatting were Ms Padukone and her manager.

Director Karan Johar meanwhile, who has also been a target of TV channels and social media users since Mr Rajput's death, released a statement on Friday rejecting claims that drugs were consumed at a party that he hosted at his home last year.

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