NCB’s Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede, who is leading the probe into the Mumbai drug bust case involving Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan, reached Delhi on Monday night to meet the agency’s director-general tomorrow. This comes amid the sensational allegations of a Rs 25-crore money deal made on behalf of some NCB officials, including Wankhede, to let off Aryan. Wankhede, however, dismissed the allegations against him as “baseless”.
Saying that he has some work in Delhi, Wankhede told media persons upon his arrival at Delhi airport: “I have not been summoned. I’ve come here for a different purpose. Allegations against me are baseless.” He added: “I do not want to comment on anything since the matter is sub-judice. We will give a proper reply to everything."
The bribery charges were made by an NCB witness, Prabhakar Sail, who is believed to be the driver of absconding “private investigator” KP Gosavi, the man seen in a viral selfie with Aryan. Gosavi is one of the nine independent witnesses in the drugs bust case. Pune police had recently issued a lookout circular against him in connection with a 2018 cheating case registered in the city.
Prabhakar on Sunday told media persons that he had overheard Gosavi telling one Sam D’Souza over the phone after Aryan Khan was brought to the NCB office following the October 3 raid on the Goa-bound ship about a demand of Rs 25 crore and to settle at Rs 18 crore as they “have to give Rs eight crore to Sameer Wankhede”.
The NCB, meanwhile, on Monday ordered a vigilance inquiry into the claims made by Sail. Wankhede, who the NCB asserted has an impeccable service record, however, failed to get any relief related to an affidavit on the extortion claims made by Sail, with a special court saying it cannot pass a blanket order barring courts from taking cognizance of the document. Sail has also been provided police protection by the Maharashtra government after he claimed a threat to his life.
The NCB and Wankhede had earlier in the day filed two separate affidavits before the special court, designated to hear cases related to the Narcotics Drugs Psychotropic Substances (MDPS) Act, against the allegations of extortion attempt levelled against them.
The affidavits had sought the court to pass an order saying no court should take cognizance of the affidavit prepared by Sail.
Gosavi May Surrender in UP
Meanwhile, Gosavi on Monday told CNN-News18 he would surrender soon as there is a threat to his life. Sources told CNN-News18 that Gosavi is likely to surrender in Uttar Pradesh, not Maharashtra.
Gosavi said he wanted to surrender as he “can’t tolerate more”. He also refuted the bribery charges made by his driver Sail, saying he never met Shah Rukh Khan’s manager, Pooja Dadlani, or went to Trident Hotel to extort money.
On the viral selfie with Aryan, Gosavi clarified that it was taken on the cruise terminal and not at the NCB office. He said he had received information about the drugs racket from a source, following which he informed the NCB. He claimed he had received several extortion calls after October 3, adding that there was a political agenda behind it.
Deceased Mother Targeted: Wankhede
The central agency, in its affidavit, came out in support of Wankhede, saying that the NCB, as an organisation and/or its officers, the zonal director, who has an impeccable service record, replete with honesty and integrity, has no interest whatsoever as falsely alleged in the purported affidavit (of the witness).
“The NCB headed by its zonal director and its team was working tirelessly with the sole objective to eradicate the drug menace in the city of Mumbai and act in compliance with the aims and object of this stringent enactment (NDPS Act), to make the city drug free,” it added.
Wankhede on Monday, meanwhile, alleged “vendetta” as he slammed Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik’s repeated attacks on his character and family. In an affidavit in a Mumbai court, the officer said the “defamatory insinuations” made against him were not only false, but “misleading, mischievous and maligning”. The IRS officer said he was ready to face a probe to prove his innocence.
The officer’s statement came after Malik — who has been a vocal critic of the anti-drugs agency and its inquiries into Aryan Khan — tweeted a photo of a document related to Wankhede’s birth and claimed, “the forgery began from here”. Among other claims, Nawab Malik has also alleged Sameer Wankhede was in the Maldives during the lockdown and that he was targeting Bollywood personalities for an extortion racket.
Responding to the attacks by Malik, Wankhede said the only justification he could think of was one Sameer Khan, related to the minister, was arrested in a drug case under the NDPS Act and since then, “there is a series of personal vengeance” against the officer and his family. He added: “I am under a lurking threat of arrest as it does not suit some vested interest for conducting an honest and impartial investigation. I am ready to face all that is contemplated in law, which would unequivocally establish my innocence… This court may pass appropriate orders to preserve and protect the sanctity of an unbiased and fair investigation.”
Wankhede had on Sunday written to Mumbai Police commissioner Hemant Nagrale, seeking protection from likely legal action “being planned” against him by unknown persons to frame him concerning an alleged vigilance-related issue.
Protection Given to Witness Prabhakar Sail
Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil, speaking to reporters in Mumbai, said that Prabhakar Sail has been given police protection. Sail visited the Mumbai police commissioner’s office in the morning and met Joint Commissioner of Police (crime) Milind Bharambhe. He later approached the Sahar police in suburban Mumbai, seeking security whenever he came to meet his wife, children and mother-in-law, who live in the Sahar village.
Meanwhile, top NCB officer Gyaneshwar Singh told PTI that the NCB “is a professional organisation and we are open for inquiry against any allegation against our staffers. The inquiry will be transparent and fair”.
Asked if Wankhede will continue to probe the cruise case till this inquiry goes on, Singh said the question was “premature and we will take a call as the inquiry progresses, and evidence is gathered”. Officials said the inquiry will look at all aspects of the claims made by Sail and will also record the version of Wankhede and other officers of the Mumbai zonal unit involved in the cruise drugs case.
The inquiry team may also question Sail, they said. A three-member team led by Gyaneshwar Singh may travel to Mumbai for “recording the evidence and taking submissions” in this case. The report of the inquiry will be submitted to the NCB DG.
(With PTI inputs)