NCB arrests Sushant’s flatmate from Hyderabad in drug case

PTI, May 28, 2021, 5:12 PM IST

Mumbai: The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has arrested Siddhartha Pithani, a roommate of filmstar Sushant Singh Rajput, in a drug case linked to the Bollywood actor’s death last year, an official said on Friday.

Pithani was arrested from Hyderabad and brought to Mumbai on a transit warrant obtained from a court in the Telangana capital, the NCB official said.

Later in the day, he was produced before a Mumbai court which remanded him in the NCB custody till June 1, a prosecution lawyer said.

Pithani was Rajput”s friend and was also staying with the late actor at his Bandra residence in suburban Mumbai.

Rajput (34), who made his silver screen debut in the critically acclaimed ”Kai Po Che” seven years ago, was found dead in his apartment on June 14, 2020.

The alleged role of Pithani in the drug case, that emerged post the actor’s death, came to light during the NCB”s investigation and hence he was arrested, the official said.

A team of the NCB, led by Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede, had launched a search for Pithani who was traced in Hyderabad, the official said.

“In a follow-up action, a team of the NCB Mumbai arrested one of the absconding accused Siddhartha Pithani at Hyderabad on 26/05/2021,” the apex drug law enforcement agency said.

Earlier, notices under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act) were served to Pithani but he did not join the investigation, it said.

The NCB Mumbai gathered intelligence about the whereabouts of the accused in Hyderabad, the central agency said.

“Accordingly, on 25/05/2021, a team from the NCB Mumbai was deputed to Hyderabad in search of the accused who has been long absconding and fleeing from justice,” it said.

Pithani was apprehended and his statement was recorded, the NCB said.

He was formally arrested under relevant sections of the NDPS Act and produced before a court in Hyderabad which granted his transit warrant, facilitating his travel to Mumbai, the central agency said.

Pithani was produced before a chief metropolitan magistrate court here which remanded him to the NCB custody till June 1 as prayed by the probe agency, special public prosecutor Advait Sethna said.

Further investigation in the case was underway, the NCB said.

Pithani used to work with a graphic design agency as a creative director in 2017.

While working in the agency, Pithani had got in touch with Rajput”s Ayush Sharma, who had asked Pithani to come to Mumbai for better opportunities.

In April 2019, Pithani came to Mumbai and since then he was staying with Rajput and was working on the late actor’s project ”Dreams 150”.

Pithani had told the police he was among the first to see Rajput hanging from the ceiling in his apartment on June 14 last year.

His statement was recorded by the Mumbai police, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the NCB, the agencies which were investigating various aspects related to Rajput”s death.

In his statement, Pithani had given the sequence of events at the flat to investigators between June 8 and June 14, 2020.

Rajput’s girlfriend, actress Rhea Chakraborty, is one of the accused in the drug case and she is currently out on bail.

The NCB started its probe in the case on the basis of some WhatsApp chats having reference to drugs.

Besides Rhea Chakraborty, the NCB had arrested her brother Showik, some staff members of Rajput and a few others under various sections of the NDPS Act.

Most of the accused are currently out on bail.

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