The NCB’s Deputy Director General (DDG)-northern region, Gyaneshwar Singh, on Wednesday said they have started recording the statement of the agency’s Mumbai zonal director Sameer Wankhede in connection with the departmental vigilance probe into allegations of extortion in the drugs-on-cruise case. A five-member vigilance probe team, which landed in Mumbai in the morning, has started its probe and collected some documents and recordings from the Narcotic Control Bureau’s (NCB) office at Ballard Estate in south Mumbai, DDG Singh, who is heading the departmental vigilance probe into allegations of extortion, told media persons.
“All the material witnesses in the probe will be called to record their statements, I will not take name of any individual," Singh said. However, to queries from reporters, the official later said, “The statement of Wankhede is being recorded…it is a sensitive inquiry and it is not possible to share real-time information related to the probe, and we will not be able to share all the details." “We have started our investigation and are calling witnesses to record their statements," Singh told reporters at the NCB’s Mumbai zonal office. “We will definitely speak to Wankhede in connection with the inquiry and others also," he added. Asked if Wankhede will continue to probe the cruise drugs seizure case, Singh said he will not make any comments related to the investigation in that case as he is not directly connected to it.
The official said he is in Mumbai for a vigilance inquiry. The NCB has ordered a vigilance inquiry into the claims made by a witness, Prabhakar Sail, in the cruise drugs case of an extortion bid of Rs 25 crore by some agency officials, including its Mumbai zonal director Sameer Wankhede, to let off Aryan Khan, the son of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan. The inquiry is being conducted by Gyaneshwar Singh, who is also the chief vigilance officer of the federal anti-narcotics agency.
A large number of media persons were present outside the NCB’s office when Singh arrived.Wankhede, who is leading the probe in the cruise drugs case, visited the NCB’s headquarters in New Delhi on Tuesday and spent over two hours.
Sources earlier said the inquiry will also look at the aspect of K P Gosavi, another NCB independent witness in the case, being in close proximity of Aryan Khan after the raids, and the procedures followed by the sleuths while entrusting custody of all the accused arrested on October 3 from the international cruise terminal in Mumbai. Photos and videos of Gosavi with Aryan Khan have gone viral on social media and other news platforms.
The role of all the officers and witnesses involved in the case will be probed and it will be recorded if they followed the NCB manual and procedures mentioned in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act during such operations, they said. Wankhede on Sunday wrote to Mumbai Police commissioner Hemant Nagrale, seeking protection from likely legal action “being planned" against him by unknown persons to falsely frame him concerning an alleged vigilance-related issue.
On Monday, he failed to get any relief related to an affidavit on the sensational extortion claims made by Sail, with a special court saying it cannot pass a blanket order barring courts from taking cognisance of the document.