Sunday 26 June 2022
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Sameer Wankhede removed from Aryan Khan drugs case probe

With this, Sameer Wankhede loses five other cases, including the one involving Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik's son-in-law Sameer Khan

In what appears a moral victory for NCP politician Nawab Malik who had been campaigning against the Mumbai zone head of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) since the arrest of actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan for possession or consumption of contraband substances, the investigation into Aryan Khan’s drugs case has been transferred from the Mumbai zone of the agency to its central team. Sameer Wankhede, zonal director of NCB’s Mumbai unit, will no longer oversee the probe.

Five other cases, including the one pertaining to Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik’s son-in-law Sameer Khan, have been transferred from the NCB’s Mumbai zone to the central zone. Sanjay Singh, the deputy director general of the central unit of the NCB, will now be the supervising officer for all five cases.

The reason the NCB is officially citing for the transfer is the “national and international ramifications” of the six cases. It says a “deeper investigation to find out forward and backward linkages” is required.

“A special investigation team [SIT] comprising officers from Operations Branch of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) Headquarters has been constituted by the Director General, NCB to take over a total of six cases from NCB Mumbai Zonal Unit. No officers have been removed from their present roles and will continue to assist the Operations Branch investigation as required… It is reiterated that the NCB functions across India as a single integrated agency,” an official statement released by the central agency said.

Meanwhile, a vigilance probe against Sameer Wankhede is currently underway. The probe was initiated by the NCB after allegations of extortion were levelled against Sameer Wankhede in the course of the investigation into the Mumbai cruise drugs case.

While six cases have been transferred from the Mumbai zone to the NCB’s headquarters in Delhi, Sameer Wankhede will remain the zonal director of the NCB’s Mumbai unit.

Responding to the development, Sameer Wankhede told ANI, “I’ve not been removed from the investigation. It was my writ petition in court that the matter be probed by a central agency. So Aryan case and Sameer Khan case are being probed by Delhi NCB’s SIT [special investigation team]. It’s a coordination between NCB teams of Delhi and Mumbai.”

Mutha Ashok Jain, NCB’s Deputy Director General of the South-Western Region, said, “It was an administrative decision.”

Reacting to the development, Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik tweeted, “This is just the beginning. A lot more has to be done to clean this system and we will do it.”

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Nawab Malik has been levelling allegations against Sameer Wankhede since the probe into the Mumbai cruise drugs case began.

An independent witness in the Mumbai cruise drugs case, Prabhakar Sail, alleged that Rs 25 crore was demanded on behalf of Sameer Wankhede to let off Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan. Aryan was in the case on 3 October and released on bail on 30 October.

In a notarised affidavit, Prabhakar Sail, who was the bodyguard of another witness KP Gosavi, claimed the latter had made the demand for Rs 25 crore on behalf of Sameer Wankhede. He also alleged that he was made to sign blank papers by NCB officials.

Following the allegations, the NCB launched a probe. The probe is being led by NCB Deputy Director General Gyaneshwar Singh.

On 27 October, Sameer Wankhede was questioned by the NCB’s vigilance team for more than four hours.

During a three-day trip to Mumbai last week, the NCB vigilance team recorded the statements of a total of eight people and collected important documents and recordings, as per an official.

Aryan Khan was after the NCB, led by Sameer Wankhede, conducted a raid on the Cordelia Cruises’ Empress ship off the coast of Mumbai on 2 October. A rave party was allegedly taking place on the ship.

NCB sleuths said they seized 13 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of MD, 21 grams of charas, 22 pills of MDMA (ecstasy) and Rs 1.33 lakh in cash during the raid. The NCB has, so far, 20 people in the case.

Aryan Khan, son of Shah Rukh Khan, was released on bail on 30 October.

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