NCB Mumbai zonal director Sameer Wankhede has been reportedly removed from his role as the lead investigator in the Mumbai drugs bust case in which actor Shah Rukh Khan‘s son Aryan Khan was arrested. Wankhede has been under probe by the NCB vigilance team into the allegations made by a witness in the case of an extortion bid of Rs 25 crore by some agency officials, including Wankhede, and others for letting off Khan.
According to a CNN-News18 report, top sources in Delhi said that an order taking Wankhede off the case has already been issued and that the NCB Director General has also decided to transfer four other high-profile cases from the anti-drug agency’s Mumbai zonal unit to its central team.
The senior NCB official faced major allegations including corruption, extravagant lifestyle and caste certificate fraud.
NCB Deputy Director-General (northern region) Gyaneshwar Singh is conducting a departmental vigilance probe into allegations of extortion made in the drugs-on-cruise case in which Wankhede and his team had arrested actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan and seven others on October 3 from the international cruise terminal in Mumbai.
Prabhakar Sail, an independent witness in the cruise drugs case, had claimed and filed an affidavit that there was an extortion bid of Rs 25 crore by some agency officials and others for letting off Aryan Khan from the case. Sail had stated that he overheard that a “bribe” of Rs 8 crore was to be paid to Wankhede out of this money.
Sail claims to be the bodyguard of a private person and another witness in this case, KP Gosavi, who was recently arrested by the Pune police in a fraud case pending against him. Gosavi’s close proximity and photographs with Aryan Khan during NCB raids had raised questions. They are part of the agency’s departmental vigilance probe.
The Mumbai NCB chief has denied these claims.
Maharashtra minister and NCP leader Nawab Malik has accused Wankhede of extorting crores and wearing “expensive” clothes beyond the reach of an honest and upright officer. Malik claimed the officer wore a trouser worth Rs 1 lakh, a shirt costing over Rs 70,000 and watches worth Rs 25 lakh to 50 lakh.
Wankhede however denied the claims and said, “He should go to the Lokhandwala area and check what are the prices of my clothes. He is spreading all rumours, he lacks knowledge and he should find out correct information about things.”
Sameer Wankhede’s sister Yasmeen and his wife also came out in support of the officer. Yasmeen Wankhede, a lawyer by profession, said Malik’s son-in-law moves around in expensive vehicles like Jaguar, a luxury car brand, but no one asks any question about his lifestyle.
Wankhede’s wife Kranti Redkar shared information regarding his property in a tweet and said the 2008-batch IRS officer has been sharing details of his properties with the government as per service rules. “As per rule Sameer is showing his entire documents to government. Sameer’s property is not disproportionate,” she said.
Malik has also accused Wankhede of forging his caste certificate and other documents to secure a job from the SC quota after clearing the UPSC examination as an IRS officer. Malik has been claiming that Wankhede is a Muslim by birth.
Sameer Wankhede on Monday, presented his original caste papers to prove he is a Dalit to National Commission for Scheduled Castes chairperson Vijay Sampla. “The proofs and documents provided will be verified with the Maharashtra government and no action can be taken against him if they are found to be valid,” Sampla said.
On Sunday, Arun Halder, NCSC vice chairperson, came out in Wankhede’s support, saying the officer is doing good work and making his department proud but a minister has launched a personal attack against him and his family members.
Union minister and RPI (A) president Ramdas Athawale has also extended his support to the NCB chief and asked Nawab Malik to refrain from “conspiring” to defame the NCB officer and his family members. “I have gone through the documents. Sameer Wankhede is a Hindu dalit. He is a follower of Babasaheb Ambedkar. He is not Muslim,” the Union minister of state for social justice and empowerment said. “If he (Malik) says that Sameer is a Muslim, then why he, who is also a Muslim, is levelling these allegations? My party stands with Sameer’s family. Sameer won’t be harmed,” Athawale added.
(With inputs from agencies)