Tuesday 30 November 2021
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Wankhede In Trouble Sad Commentary On Indian System

Why is a probe initiated into the antecedents of NCB officer Sameer Wankhede right after NCP politician Nawab Malik cast aspersions on him?

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Ever since the director of the Narcotics Control Bureau’s Mumbai Zone, Sameer Wankhede, exposed drug consumption by actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan among others, political and personal attacks on him have intensified. Nawab Malik, a minister in the government and an influential of the NCP, has opened a front against Wankhede, calling him a fake person. The Muslim politician threatened that within a year Wankhede would be in jail. The case was high profile from the beginning with the arrest of the son of a Bollywood superstar, but now Wankhede himself seems to be surrounded by questions. A witness in the cruise drugs case has accused him of trying to extort Rs 8 crore.

Wankhede is considered a sharp officer. After being accused of extortion bids, his own department NCB has ordered an inquiry against him. This is not the first time that any officer probing the high profile case has himself been mired in questions. In the case of meat trader Moin Qureshi, then CBI Director and Special Director Rakesh Asthana had sparred. They accused each other of taking bribes from Qureshi’s men. In the Supreme Court, it became a case of CBI vs CBI, which brought much humiliation to the investigating agency. Similarly, in the high profile case of explosives planted in a car parked near Mukesh Ambani’s house, Sachin Vaze went behind the bars. After the story of ‘recovery’ of Rs 100 crore worth of extorted money surfaced, Home Minister of Anil Deshmukh had to resign. The then Police Commissioner of Mumbai Parambir Singh was discharged. He is still fighting a legal battle to avoid arrest.

In Aryan Khan’s case, the spotlight is on Wankhede. He is the director of the Mumbai Zone of NCB since 2020. Originally from Maharashtra, Wankhede is a 2008 batch officer of the Indian Revenue Service (IRS). His father was a police officer. The image of Wankhede has been that of a flamboyant officer. He first came into the limelight when, after the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, he unearthed the narcotic network of Bollywood actors and took action. Wankhede created panic in Bollywood. Rhea Chakraborty was arrested. Big stars like Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan, Rakul Preet Singh, Arjun Rampal and Shraddha Kapoor were questioned by the NCB. Comedian Bharti Singh was arrested. The son-in-law of Nawab Malik, a minister in the government, was arrested in a case related to drugs. Wankhede was then accused of deliberately targeting and defaming Bollywood for the sake of publicity and fame.

Even before being transferred to the NCB, Wankhede had taken action against many Bollywood stalwarts. On 14 July 2011, a customs officer stopped Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. Khan had returned from Europe on a holiday and was carrying a large number of bags with him. After questioning, the officer imposed a fine of Rs 1.5 lakh for excess baggage. That officer was none other than Wankhede who was posted in the customs department at the time. In 2013, Wankhede caught singer Mika Singh as a customs officer with foreign currency in excess of the prescribed quantity.

Wankhede has been accused in the past that he targets people associated with Bollywood to get publicity. NCB claims that 13 g of cocaine, 5 g of MDMA, 21 g of charas and 22 tablets of MDMA were found on the cruise. No drug was recovered from Aryan Khan. This is the reason that even in this case, from the very beginning, the officer was accused of targeting Bollywood. But he came under the scanner when Prabhakar Sail, a witness in the case, made a sensational allegation of trying to take a bribe of Rs 8 crore on Wankhede. In his affidavit presented in the court, Sail has claimed that another witness in the case, KP Gosavi, had talked about a deal worth Rs 25 crore during a phone conversation with a person named Sam D’Souza. Later, there was talk of finalising the deal on both the phones for Rs 18 crore, in which it was also said to give Rs 8 crore to Wankhede. Sal, who was Gosavi’s private bodyguard, has claimed that the NCB had made him sign on blank papers. However, Gosavi has denied the allegations and said that he does not know what kind of allurement has been given to SAIL who has submitted a ‘false affidavit’.

After the sensational allegations of Prabhakar cell, NCB has started an against Wankhede. On the other hand, Nawab Malik, a minister in the government, continues to attack Wankhede. Malik betrays the tension he is experiencing for the arrest of his son-in-law in a case related to contraband. He claims that within a year, Wankhede will reach its “real place” — jail. Malik has accused Wankhede of getting a job on the basis of a fake caste certificate. A day earlier, Malik tweeted an alleged birth certificate saying that it was the birth certificate of Wankhede. He claimed that in the birth certificate, the name of Wankhede’s father has been written as Dawood K. Wankhede and instead of religion, Muslim has been written. The NCP alleged that later Wankhede changed the father’s name by tampering with the birth certificate and changed the religion from Muslim to Hindu. On this basis, after getting a caste certificate, got a job in IRS. On Tuesday, Malik again appeared before the media and reiterated his allegations. This time he said that he is also looking for the nikahnama of Wankhede’s parents.

Wankhede, on the other hand, says that he and his family are being targeted ever since he took action in the cruise drugs case. His father and his sister are being attacked. Even his late mother is not being spared. Wankhede said that his mother Zahida was a Muslim and his father a Hindu. He has written a letter to Mumbai Police expressing apprehension that he may be implicated in some fake case. Wankhede’s father also came forward and denied Malik’s allegations. He said that his name is not Dawood but Gyandev Wankhede.

The writer is a revenue officer

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