Sushant Singh Rajput’s (SSR) unfortunate death and its investigations have uncovered the dark side of Bollywood in international media. The ongoing probe into the drugs angle linked to actor SSR’s death investigations has brought to the fore alleged drug nexus in the film industry. The media also targeted his girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty, who was eventually detained for drugs consumption and later released on bail.

More recently, Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi’s house is reported to have been searched by the Central Crime Branch (CCB) officials in connection to a drugs case which allegedly involves his brother-in-law Aditya Alva too. As per a Times of India report on Octpbr 15, the cops have been searching for Aditya Alva, the son of former Karnataka minister Jeevaraj Alva. Aditya, who is Vivek’s brother-in-law, is accused of being involved in a drugs case which involves many singers and actors in the Kannada film industry and Bollywood.

The Sandalwood drug racket was exposed by Kannada filmmaker Indrajit Lankesh, earlier this year. The report also suggests that Alva along with prime accused Shivaprakash Chuppi has been absconding since the police launched a crackdown against drug peddlers, suppliers and rave party organisers. Meanwhile, twelve people are reported to have been arrested in the drugs case to date. Even actresses Ragini Dwivedi and Sanjjanaa Galrani are under judicial custody. While Narcotics control Board (NCB) has conducted many raids in Bengaluru which even includes Alva’s house, the CCB has expanded its probe.

Times Now disclosed that it had accessed incriminating Whatsapp chats of top five Bollywood A-listers with initials D, K, N, J, S that could help the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) unearth the alleged drug cartel operating in the film industry. In one of the WhatsApp messages, two Bollywood celebrities with the initials N and J talk about the procurement of hash and the banned drug MDMA.

NCB has asked the drug enforcement agencies in the US, the UK, Canada and Australia to identify cocaine suppliers to Mumbai. Hindustan Times report of September 21 had the figure pointing at all other countries but did not mention India and the innocent but scared sparrow, Bollywood.

According to NCB officials, the majority of cocaine lands in India through the Columbia-Brazil-Mozambique route, while other African destinations and the Dubai area are sometimes used as an alternative route. Given that India is the largest producer of potassium permanganate, which is used in processing cocaine, there were even plans by some organisations to set up a cocaine processing unit in India.

The Hindustan Times report of September 21 also suggests that while NCB is conducting an intensive investigation into the drug angle of the SSR case, the matter is being handled carefully, the NCB official cited in the first instance said, with names of drug dealers linked with Maharashtra politicians and companies managing film actors and actresses also coming under the scanner, the proceedings have to take care of political sensitivities.

With India consuming nearly one tonne of heroin every day, associate agencies have also alerted NCB to the possibility of a processing unit in India for Afghan heroin coming through secret land routes or through the sea route from Gujarat. The Narco cycle is interesting; India produces the largest amount of chemicals used in illicit drug manufacturing in Afghanistan, South America and South East Asia, where as it poses as a victim of the finished products of Cocaine and heroin.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) regularly publishes its report on the international drug and crimes, one of its past report on India tells the alarming story of how India has become an epicentre of illicit drugs and is affecting the entire world. Extracts of the report are posted below:

In India, currently, injecting drug use is more closely linked to the abuse of licit opiate pharmaceuticals than to illicit drugs. India is a large manufacturer of pharmaceuticals. The law regulates their production and sale, but there is no uniformity in the monitoring of compliance with the law. This contributes to an increase in the abuse of pharmaceutical drugs. The smuggling of pharmaceuticals from India, especially codeine-based cough syrups, dextropropoxyphene and injectable buprenorphine, is a major concern for India’s neighbours, particularly Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Other pharmaceuticals that are also commonly diverted for abuse within India as well as for smuggling include diazepam and nitrazepam.

India is the only country currently producing licit opium gum for domestic medical and scientific purposes as well as for export under the terms of the 1961 Single Convention. However, an unknown portion of India’s licit opium crop (1,061metric tonnes in 2004, which may have crossed 3000 metric tons by 2020) is diverted into illicit channels and then converted into heroin, usually close to source.

UNODC research also suggests that India has a well-developed chemical industry, which produces substantial quantities of acetic anhydride, ephedrine, pseudo-ephedrine, potassium permanganate and many other precursor chemicals. In spite of precursor control legislation and procedures being in place, several cases of diversions of significant quantities of precursor chemicals have occurred in recent years. The growing threat of traffickers establishing laboratories in the region, and availability of ephedrine and pseudo-ephedrine in India is of grave concern to Indian law enforcement authorities.

Bollywood has responded by filing a law suit in Indian courts. As reported by Al Jazeera on October 12, some of Bollywood’s top producers have filed a lawsuit against two television news channels, alleging they have portrayed the film industry in India as a den of drugs and crime following the death of one of its young stars. The suit, filed in the Delhi High Court, has more than 30 Bollywood production houses and four industry bodies as plaintiffs and refers to the coverage of Rajput’s death.

“The privacy of the members of Bollywood is being invaded, and their reputations are being irreparably damaged by painting the entire Bollywood as criminals, steeped in drug culture, and making being part of Bollywood as synonymous with criminal acts in the public imagination,” the producers said in a statement. They named Republic TV and its cofounder, Arnab Goswami, as well as Times Now, in the lawsuit, which was filed in the Delhi High Court.

Bollywood has remained the flag bearer of Indian soft power and has been part of the Indian Government’s effort to project the soft face of a secular India. Time has come to expose the Narco and drug connection of Bollywood; the international community should note that the industry at present is steeped in drug culture, this mirage of Bollywood is run by drug peddlers and illicit money launderers, who not only use the drugs in the industry but also fund it to project the soft face of so called Shining India.