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Drug newsance' and the collateral damage

Deccan Chronicle.| Swati Sharma

Published on: April 5, 2022 | Updated on: April 5, 2022

Those who just happened to be there, without having anything to do with the drugs, get caught in the crossfire

Hyderabad Police Commissioner C V Anand. (By Arrangement)

Hyderabad Police Commissioner C V Anand. (By Arrangement)

When it comes to cases of high-profile drug busts, like the one at Pudding and
Mink at Radisson Blu last night or even the sensational Aryan Khan’s case
recently, a lot of collateral damage ensues.

With the men in khaki selectively leaking names of the high and mighty and the media going into overdrive, repeatedly flashing names of all those present and tarring everyone with the same brush, truth ends up as the first casualty.

After last night’s raid, numerous names of customers (there were 148 people including staff on the premises) were thrown up, including that of the niece of a Tollywood veteran, a singer, a politician’s son and the daughter of a top cop.

But there’s no clarity on who actually consumed cocaine there (five grams of cocaine and other "suspicious" material was found at the pub). Such incidents also leave a lot of loose ends behind. Those who just happened to be there, without having anything to do with the drugs, get caught in the crossfire. By the
time their names are cleared in the investigation, their reputations have already been damaged.

CULPRITS ARE FEW, BUT ALL GETS BLAMED

For now, all customers are being treated as suspects. "Since we do not know who was consuming the drugs or who brought them, all customers will have to be treated as suspects till we get some more leads," says Hyderabad Police
Commissioner C V Anand. Speaking to Hyderabad Chronicle, the city police chief says they would also be writing to the excise department to cancel the liquor license of the pub in question, and the police license will be cancelled too.

The senior IPS officer has already placed the Banjara Hills Inspector P. Shiva Chandra under suspension. The illegal happenings in the pub were taking place under the nose of the Banjara Hills police, who obviously looked the other way.

The pub is hardly a kilometre away from the police station. It is unclear if the
local police were being given hefty sums to allow the pub to run smoothly or if the management was so politically connected that they just did not bother about the
local police and went about their illegal business anyway.

SO WHAT HAPPENS TO THE CUSTOMERS?

"We have taken down their names and numbers along with their Aadhar card details. As investigations proceed, they will be sum-moned depending on their culpability," says a lower rung official associated with the investigation. "No one is saying that all customers who were there were doing drugs. It is media who are doing it. We will strictly go by evidence against the customers and a thorough probe is underway to arrive at the truth," he insists.

As and when the police summon the suspects (customers), they will be served notices mentioning why they are being summoned, and other details. A lot will also depend on the questioning of the hotel staff.

The investigators already have loads of information, it is learnt, and are sifting through it. The police are also gathering information about drug pedlars and their modus operandi.

PUB BLAMED AS RULES WERE BROKEN

When the raid was conducted at 2 a.m., the DJ was still playing music, liquor was being served even though it was much beyond the stipulated time and dope material was found on the bar tender’s table, which led the police to arrest the pub manager M. Anil Kumar. Subsequently, the police arrested Abhishek Vuppula, the pub owner.

Cases were registered against Abhishek and his partner Arjun Veeramachineni for violating the NDPS Act. Abhishek’s mother Vuppala Sarada is a BJP leader. It is learnt that the pub had just started doing good business and had become very popular among the party people in a very short time.

According to police, the partners of the pub allow only an elite few customers and their guests to have access to the pub with the sole intention of making more money, and they run the pub till the early hours.

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