The death of actor Sushant Singh sparked a media storm in which some called for a fuller investigation into the “drug mafia”.

Bollywood superstar Deepika Padukone was asked for questioning as part of an escalating drug investigation into the suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, Indian police said late Wednesday.

Actress Rhea Chakraborty has already been arrested during the investigation for allegedly buying drugs for her former boyfriend Rajput, who was found dead in his Mumbai apartment in June. The police said he took his own life.

The 34-year-old, a star with many hit films, first sparked a mental health debate in the multi-billion dollar industry.

Padukone, who has shared her own experiences with depression, has spoken out against the stigma associated with the disease.

But Rajput’s family denied reports that he was suffering from depression and accused 28-year-old Chakraborty of stealing his money and molesting him. She has emphatically denied the allegations.

Rajput’s death sparked a media storm in India calling for a broader investigation into Bollywood’s so-called “drug mafia”. TV stations speculated that Chakraborty allegedly drove Rajput to suicide by buying cannabis for him.

India’s leading crime-fighting agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation, began investigating his death last month. The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) examined his cannabis use.

Earlier this week, TimesNow television broadcast sections of a WhatsApp conversation about obtaining hash, claiming the two interlocutors were Padukone and her manager.

Media ‘witch hunt’

KPS Malhotra, deputy director of the NCB, told AFP that the agency had summoned Padukone and actresses Sara Ali Khan, Shraddha Kapoor and Rakul Preet Singh for questioning.

Police have already arrested others related to the case, including Chakraborty’s brother and a member of Rajput’s domestic staff.

The investigation has made headlines for months, and some celebrities, including actresses Vidya Balan and Sonam Kapoor, have accused television networks of “witch hunts” against Chakraborty.

Rajput was born in the eastern state of Bihar and graduated from engineering to pursue an acting career.

In 2013 he had his big breakthrough with Kai Po Che !, a film about cricket, love and politics, which was recognized at the Berlin Film Festival.

He was also commended for his portrayal of Indian cricket hero Mahendra Singh Dhoni in a 2016 hit biopic.

In an interview with AFP earlier this year, Rajput talked about the emotional roller coaster ride he experienced while filming, which portrayed the heartbreak Dhoni suffered when his girlfriend died.

“After we made the preparations, I was him in my head and everything that happened actually affected me,” he said.

Rajput’s last film was a Hindi remake of the Hollywood romance The Fault in Our Stars, titled Dil Bechara (Poor Heart), which was released in July.


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