The Thane police, probing the Rs 2,000-crore drug bust, are throwing their dragnet wide within Bollywood. After naming former actress Mamta Kulkarni as one of the prime accused in the racket, they are now training their guns on another popular yesteryear actor-turned-comedian.
Former Bollywood actress Mamta Kulkarni
Sources say the police have found that the comedian and a silver screen actor attended a meeting at a five-star hotel in Juhu a few months ago to discuss the supply of deadly party drug mephodrone — commonly known by its street name, meow meow — within Bollywood.
The police have sought from the hotel its CCTV footages of the past few months, but the owners are allegedly not cooperating. "The hotel owners claim that they don't keep video records for over a month. We have clues and witnesses who can corroborate that the two actors had attended the meeting," said a senior officer from the Thane police.
The meeting was allegedly attended by Jay Mukhi and Kishore Singh Rathod, ringleaders of the Thane racket, and a few other drug peddlers. Besides, two sons of a notorious drug peddler were present, said the officer. "The Bollywood actor's name was revealed by Jay Mukhi (who is in police custody)."
He said the peddlers discussed setting up a mephedrone supply chain across Mumbai and for Bollywood parties. The drug allegedly is in huge demand in the Hindi film industry and party circles.
Leaving nothing to chance, the police are building a watertight case against the comedian and the actor before calling them for questioning. "Once we get proper evidence, we will call them," said the officer.
The Bollywood actor's ties with international drug lord and Kulkarni's husband, Vicky Goswami, reportedly date back to a 1997 narcotics case. A TV soap actor and a small-time Bollywood actor are also under the police's lens.
Rathod's kin questioned
The Thane police began questioning family of absconding ringleader Rathod, including his father and former BJP MLA, Bhavsinh Rathod, mother, wife and sister yesterday. They have summoned over 15 family members and friends of Rathod and Goswami from Gujarat. Both Goswami and Rathod hail from Gujarat.
"We have asked friends who were in touch with Rathod in the past or who were close to him to visit us. The family arrived on Thursday. We found that Bhavsingh had been in touch with Rathod over the phone. Bhavsinh has a tainted past," said the officer. Bhavsinh, a reformed dacoit, had been arrested in 1997 for smuggling 1,000 kg of hashish.
Drug lord Vicky Goswami's sisters and their sons, based out of Gujarat, have also been summoned for questioning by the Thane police.
The police investigation has revealed that Mamta Kulkarni credited Rs 2 crore in the account of Goswami's sister, Ritaben (52), over the last four years. Her account has now been frozen.
"She is expected to arrive for questioning within a week. She claims that she met Kulkarni at a party and struck a friendship. She was, however, evasive over why such a huge sum was exchanged between two friends. She claims that her financial condition is poor and that Goswami sent her money to take care of her family. She says the money was funnelled into her account in different instalments over the last four years," said a police officer.