NCB arrests Sushant's flatmate from Hyderabad in drug case

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(Eds: adding details from custody application of NCB) Mumbai, May 28 (PTI) The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has arrested Siddhartha Pithani, a flatmate of 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 produced in a special court in Mumbai which sent him in the NCB custody till June 1.

Pithani was Rajput's friend and was staying with him at the actor's apartment in suburban Bandra.

According to his statement to Mumbai Police, Pithani was among the first to see the actor's hanging body when Rajput (34) allegedly committed suicide on June 14, 2020.

The NCB began a separate probe when some WhatsApp chats of the late actor indicated drug use.

As Pithani's alleged role in drug procurement came to light, notices under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act were issued to him earlier, asking him to join the investigation, but he did not respond, the NCB official said.

A team led by the NCB's Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede had launched a manhunt for Pithani who was tracked down to Hyderabad. A team of Mumbai NCB apprehended him in the Telangana capital on May 26, the official added.

He was arrested under the NDPS Act and produced before a local court which granted the NCB his `transit remand', allowing the agency to take him to Mumbai.

Pithani was produced before a chief metropolitan magistrate in Mumbai on Friday who remanded him in the NCB custody till June 1 as requested, special public prosecutor Advait Sethna said.

While seeking his custody, Sethna told the court that Pithani had admittedto his involvementin the crime.

The NCB's remand application said that otherarrested accused had also disclosed Pithani's 'involvement in the procurement of contraband (ganja/weed/joint/charas)'.

Besides Rajput, hewas in direct contact with Samuel Miranda,Deepesh Sawant and Showik and Rhea Chakraborty, therefore further probe into his 'role and nexus' with other accused was needed, it told the court.

Rajput's former girlfriend Rhea, her brother Showik, and the actor's staff members Miranda and Sawant were arrested in the drug case last year and later got bail.

Pithani used to work with a graphic design agency as a creative director in 2017. He came in contact with Rajput through the actor's friend Ayush Sharma.

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

After Rajput's alleged suicide, Pithani's statement was recorded by Mumbai Police, the Enforcement Directorate, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the NCB in related cases. PTI DC AVI RSY KRK KRK