The TLDR: Over the weekend, the police separately conducted raids and made prominent arrests targeting movie stars in two cities: Bangalore and Mumbai. The Mumbai case is, of course, a spin-off of the investigation into Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. In Bangalore, the latest crackdown was triggered by the arrest of a drug dealer. Both are making a big splash—which is likely the aim—but do little to address India’s very real drug problem.
A quick timeline
The drugs involved: The police recovered significant amounts of MDMA (a purer form of Ecstasy) and LSD from the alleged dealers. There’s no news of what was found in Dwivedi’s home.
Why now? The government is apparently alarmed by the rising levels of drug use in the city, and across the state. According to the state home ministry, the use of cocaine has doubled in five years. The total amount of all drugs seized in raids has jumped from 500 kg in 2015/16 to 1,500-2,000 kg now. Also: the war on drugs has now become a prime issue for the state party: “BJP is committed to ensuring that Karnataka becomes drug-free. This menace must be eliminated, lock, stock and barrel.”
Why movie stars? The state home minister declared: “Everyone involved in the drugs business, however influential or popular, will be punished to set an example to others indulging in the menace.”
A quick timeline
This is what it looked like when Rhea was called into questioning:
The drugs involved: Rhea and her brother are accused of using Rajput’s employees to procure some form of cannabis—though specifics range from one report to another.
As per the NCB’s court filing—based on WhatsApp messages—on March 17, Showik procured 5 gms of cannabis. On April 17, Rhea and Showik procured 10 gms of charas. And over the month of May, Showik took delivery of 50 gm of charas and 100 gm of ganja.
OTOH, NCB “sources” told The Print that the case involves ‘bud’—which the publication oddly calls a “curated form of marijuana,” and claims it is “procured on the dark-web using cryptocurrency.” The proof: Showik’s WhatsApp messages that say, “My dealer is not available, but my friend is sending a few numbers for bud. It’ll be good bud.”
Also in the mix: CBD oil, which is completely legal, and used to treat anxiety or depression. A leaked WhatsApp conversation shows Rhea discussing mixing it with chai.
Defining the drug: ‘Bud’ is used to refer to the flower of the marijuana plant—which contains the highest THC content (the bit that helps a person get 'high'). The word is used in popular parlance to refer to any form of marijuana. Ganja is another word for bud. Charas is a resin extracted from the plant.
Why now? With the critical Bihar elections round the corner, the art and culture wing of the Bihar BJP has rolled out posters, car stickers and face masks featuring Rajput. See below: the poster—which says in Hindi, ‘Na bhule hain, na bhulne denge’ (We have neither forgotten nor will let anyone forget). The atrocious looking face mask is here. Point to note: the state BJP denies any political motive and Rajput’s death is “an emotional, not a political matter.”
FYI: “Although the Rajputs constitute only 4% of Bihar’s population, they are dominant upper castes who can influence others to vote for a party. They are largely associated with the BJP and the JD(U).”
Here are some key stats about drug abuse in India that put these cases in perspective.
Shashi Tharoor just co-wrote a piece in The Print arguing for the legalization of marijuana. Also a good read in The Print: How Indians confuse addicts with criminals. Quint has a great piece on how the crackdown on opium created an epidemic of heroin addiction in Punjab. The most recent data on drug addiction in India is in this 2019 government report. BBC News and Economic Times have more on the drug epidemic (or chitta economy) in Punjab—which is far more representative of India’s substance abuse problem than high-profile raids.
Local newspapers are reporting the abduction of five young tribal men by Chinese troops. Union Minister Kiren Riiju claims that the Indian Army has already reached out to their PLA counterparts. But the Defence Ministry says it’s heard of no such thing. (Indian Express)
Novak Djokovic was the favourite to win the tournament, but he crashed out of it yesterday—and in the oddest fashion possible. He smacked a ball in frustration—which accidentally hit a lines official. He has since apologised for his behaviour on Insta. See the video below.
In related news: The number one women’s doubles team has also been forced to withdraw—but because they came in contact with another player who has since tested positive for Covid. ABC News has more details.
The President managed to get himself in serious PR trouble thanks to a scoop in The Atlantic that showed he mocked dead US soldiers—a story even confirmed by his bestie TV channel Fox News. The gist: In 2018, Trump was in Paris and scheduled to visit a cemetery where many US soldiers killed in World War I are buried. It was canceled allegedly for the following reason:
“Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day. In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.”
Trump has since angrily denied he said or did any such thing—but this is not a good look for anyone running for election as commander-in-chief of the US military.
Also not a good look: Trump’s former bestie and fixer-in-chief Michael Cohen has just released a book calling him "a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man.” Everyone is obsessed with this detail: A parody clip of The Apprentice (made by Trump) where he insults and ‘fires’ a fake Barack Obama. We were every bit as fascinated by this revelation:
“Cohen also divulges personal details about Trump, including his hair routine, described as a ‘three-step’ combover designed to disguise ‘unsightly scars on his scalp from a failed hair-implant operation in the 1980s.’
Writing that he once witnessed Trump shortly after he showered, Cohen recalls that "
‘when his hair wasn't done, his strands of dyed-golden hair reached below his shoulders along the right side of his head and on his back, like a balding Allman Brother or strung out old '60s hippie.’”
Yup, we’re going to leave it there.
Speaking of racist US presidents: A new book based on White House recordings of Richard Nixon reveals that Nixon was sexually repulsed by Indians:
“The most sexless, nothing, these people. I mean, people say, what about the Black Africans? Well, you can see something, the vitality there, I mean they have a little animallike charm, but God, those Indians, ack, pathetic. Uch.”
He also said: “Undoubtedly the most unattractive women in the world are the Indian women.” Coming from a looker like Nixon, that really hurts.
In related US election news: Facebook is paying users to deactivate their FB and Insta accounts for six weeks before the election. It’s part of an experiment to understand how the platforms affect people’s political attitudes and behaviour.
Over the weekend, Kannada actress Samyuktha Hegde was working out with hula hoops in a park with two friends. They were confronted by local Congress leader, Kavitha Reddy—who seemingly tried to hit one of them (that clip here). A mob gathered, the police arrived—and the scene looked something like this. Reddy can be clearly heard heckling Hegde for doing a “nanga naach.” In any case, she has since apologized for her “moral policing.” PS: Comedian Danish Sait posted a very funny vid referring to the incident and Akki’s FAU-G app—but it has since disappeared. We’re not sure which bit offended the powers-that-be.
Data collected by our lunar probe Chandrayaan-1 shows that the moon is gathering rust—which is astonishing since it is created when iron is exposed to water and oxygen. And there’s no oxygen on the lunar surface. According to researchers in Hawaii, the culprit is Earth. Thanks to a solar wind, our planet extends the magnetic field that encompasses our planet into a “magnetic tail”—as it might a bubble. And oxygen travels on this tail and lands on the surface of the moon facing us. And it happens every month: “The moon enters this tail three days before it's full, and it takes six days to cross the tail and exit on the other side.” (CNN)
Mohammed Zubair has been charged with “online harassment and torture” of a minor girl on Twitter. This is the incident that triggered the charges:
“On August 6, Zubair responded to an abusive message from Twitter user Jagdish Singh, who uses the handle @JSINGH2252. He posted Singh’s display picture, which features a little girl who is perhaps his granddaughter. Zubair blurred her face in the image posted. ‘Hello Jagdish Singh,’ he said. ‘Does your cute grand daughter know about your part time job of abusing people on social media? I suggest you to change your profile pic.’”
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights wants Zubair prosecuted for “stalking of a minor girl on Twitter.” Alt News is standing by Zubair. (Scroll)
Everything's better with lightsabers! If you agree, please to be enjoying this highly skilful ‘remake’ of ‘Lord of The Rings’. More of a pirates fan? Check out this version of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’.
One: The Great Escape: Beagle Edition
Two: Catch Me If You Can: Penguin Edition
Three: Footloose: The Dracula Edition
Four: Barsaat: The Chawal Edition. This one you have to click through and read to truly enjoy it. (h/t founding member Basreena Basheer and Vernon Fernandez)