Actor Rhea Chakraborty arrested by NCB, but the TV media trail continues to bay for blood

The Sushant Singh Rajput case is being investigated by the Narcotics Control Bureau, Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate


India’s premier agency, the Narcotics Control Bureau, explains on its own website as being “set up as apex drug law enforcement agency with view to coordinate actions of various central/state agencies in the matters related with drug law in the country.” Though the data on the massive seizures it has made is yet to be updated since March 2019, the NCB has shown it has done a lot to effectively eliminate drugs from society “by maintaining high professional standards by acting fairly, firmly and impartially” as it states on its website. Its Mission is to, “Prevent and combat abuse and illicit traffic of drugs” and Vision is, “Endeavour for a drug free society.”

In March 2019, it seized hundreds of kilograms of various drugs, such as Khat/Chatt Leaves, Hashish, Opium, Ganja, Heroin, Poppy Straw etc, and arrested scores of criminals connected with international drug mafias at different levels. A comprehensive lists of those arrests can be found here:

However, not many TV channels, or mainstream newspapers seem to have covered those seizures, and lauded the arrests made by the highly specialised agency, which boasts of the best investigative teams. It took the arrest of a Hindi film actor Rhea Chakraborty, on the basis of ‘evidence’ of her chats with alleged ‘drug’ peddlers, for the media to go into a frenzy on Tuesday, September 8. TV anchors tripped over each other, to drive home the point that they had said it first, or had presented “evidence” of a drug angle in the investigations into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput. The NCB has reportedly stated that it has not found any drugs in Rhea’s possession. However, the actor has been arrested in Mumbai after three days of questioning. According to an NDTV report, the NCB started its inquiries based on WhatsApp chats retrieved from Rhea Chakraborty’s phone, which revealed alleged conversations around procuring drugs, allegedly for Sushant Singh Rajput, her partner.

The report adds that the NCB will not seek her custody during an online court hearing later this evening. It will be the court which will decide whether to grant her bail. According to NDTV’s sources Chakraborty “admitted to organising drugs for the Bollywood star and also using them at times, during hours of questioning”.

However, Rajput’s fans are seeing this as some kind of a ‘victory’ in the investigation into the actor’s unnatural death. Chakraborty’s media trial continues, and she is being painted as already being guilty of multiple crimes. The fact that investigations are still continuing is irrelevant as most watched TV anchors make it about their own ‘investigations’.

Case in point a jubilant Navika Kumar of Times Now who has claimed most credit so far, “Drug Chats first reported by me on @TimesNow. Even as the CBI & ED were investigating. @dir_ed handed the narcotics investigation to @narcoticsbureau. ‘Smelt’ the story first…”


India Today Groups’s Rajdeep Sardesai too lauded NCB with a ‘namaste’ emoji and posted, “… So what CBI, ED, Bihar police could not do, NCB has done..”


While a cryptic tweet “#GodIsWithUs” by Rajput’s sister Shweta Singh Kirti went viral with over 10 thousand retweets soon after it was posted.


In sharp contrast, Rhea Chakraborty’s lawyer Satish Maneshinde has said she’s being hounded for “being in love with a drug addict”. He called her arrest ‘travesty of justice’, reported The Hindustan Times (HT). As is protocol Chakraborty was taken for a medical examination after being arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau, and, as expected the media gave chase, reading into her expressions, and dissecting the anti-patriarchy slogan printed on her tee shirt.


The fact that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a coalition partner in the state government in Bihar – polls are due here later this here – is taking unashamed interest in this particular case is not insignificant. Rajya Sabha member and controversial politician. Subramanian Swamy had this to say, six days ago, “Shake down Vishkanya Rhea we will get the plot of drugging SSR and murder. For that custodial interrogation required. Which means she will be arrested soon. The big unravelling for the national interest is smashing of the narcotics network,” he demanded in a social media post. And then went on to say similar things to the TV anchors conducting the ‘investigation’. Among other things, she has been called “Vishkanya” or poisonous woman, a phrase that once belonged to tacky film scripts of the 80s, but now even used personalities such as senior politician lawyer Subramanian Swamy. In the India of today, where extreme sentiments are the norm, witch-hunting has been made to appear cool.

Today, the day of her arrest, news agencies quote Rhea’s lawyer as stating that, “three central agencies hounding a single woman just because she was in love with a drug addict who was suffering from mental health issues for several years and died by suicide due to consumption of illegally administered medicines, drugs.” According to the HT report Rhea is the prime accused in the death of Sushant Singh Rajput and is being investigated by the NCB along with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED).

When she was arrested by the NCB during their investigation into the drugs angle of the case, the news was confirmed by agency’s deputy director KPS Malhotra. Confirming the news, he said, “Rhea has been arrested and due process of informing the family has been completed.” She had earlier been questioned by the NCB on Sunday and Monday, for hours on end. She was arrested on the third day of questioning. Her brother, Showik Chakraborty, was arrested by the NCB last week.  Sushant Singh Rajput had died on June 14, allegedly by suicide.

His family had alleged that he may have been given psychotropic drugs by Rhea, and that he had mental health issues before he met her. Republic TV and portal went a step ahead and reported that a 2009 tweet by Rhea Chakraborty where she wrote, “Just stepped out of a weird scary engrossing story of an Indian girl ….who served 4 n a half year jail sentence for narcotic trafikking. [sic]” had resurfaced and gone viral. According to TV channels “she was consuming not just marijuana, but also hard drugs.”  They attribute this to unnamed “sources”.

Most have called this arrest as ‘justice for Sushant’, when, according to news reports that quote Rhea’s alleged statement the drugs were procured for Sushant’s consumption, thus making him a user, and a possible co accused if he was still alive. The fans, however, do not care. The anti-Rhea witch hunt continues, because the reporters are ‘investigating’ the case, and focusing their cameras on anyone who has an opinion on it, non-stop, giving extra time to  elements like “black magic” too.


Social media today was not all one-sided, however. Women from Kashmir to the south, and from different professions, however, tweeted their disgust at this brazen witch-hunt.

Shehla Rashid, socio-political activist made an interesting observation. “Hey

@Tweet2Rhea I’m not sure if you are reading this, but be strong. Not everyone here believes the media propaganda; they have little credibility. Unfortunately, you’ve become an unlikely pawn in a political game. But this too shall pass. Perhaps as soon as the Bihar election.”


To which there was an astute reply, “Yes! However, Brahmanism is not kind to upper-caste women who transgress the norms of sexual morality encoded in caste endogamy. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that she’s being targeted by the family of her deceased partner’s family who’ve now unleashed a lynch mob on her”

Well known journalist, Supriya Sharma, was sharp in her observations, “Surreal times. India faces threat of war and economic collapse. But the news is obsessing over a few grams of marijuana. Mass scale smoking up.”


And here is Rohini Singh, “One of the most disappointing persons in the #RheaChakraborty matter has been West Bengal CM @MamataOfficial. She was silent when Rhea was vilified for being Bengali, silent when a young woman was harassed and lynched. Leaders lead. They don’t follow the mob.”


Nothing summed it better than Simi Grewal, the gracious doyen of Indian cinema, replying to Rohini Singh and Farah Khan, “ And considering it is legal & decriminalized in 26 countries!! But when there is a witch hunt – sanity is the first casualty.”



Guilty as charged: Investigators, judge, jury and executioners of TV news ‘debates’
Social media hate machine goes into overdrive against Rhea Chakraborty
Not fair to label those with mental illness as ‘weak’
Media, right-wing spew venom over Sushant Singh Rajput’s death



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