Heard of Rs 25 crore demand to let off Aryan Khan, alleges NCB witness; agency denies claim
In a new twist to the cruise drugs seizure case, an 'independent witness' on Sunday claimed that Rs 25 crore was demanded by an official of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and other persons, including absconding witness K P Gosavi, to let off Aryan Khan, the son of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who was arrested in the case.
Prabhakar Sail, the 'independent witness', 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 after the October 3 raid 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 zonal director of NCB.
He also claimed NCB officials had asked him to sign nine to ten blank papers. However, a senior NCB official denied the allegations, terming them as ''completely false and malicious''.
Meanwhile, 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. Without taking names, Wankhede, an IRS officer of the 2008 batch, claimed in his letter that the threat of jail and dismissal have been issued against him on public media by highly respectable public functionaries.
An NCB team led by Wankhede earlier this month allegedly seized drugs onboard a cruise ship off the Mumbai coast following which Aryan Khan was arrested on October 3. He is currently lodged in the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai. His bail application is likely to be heard by the Bombay High Court on October 26.
Sail is the personal bodyguard of Gosavi, who is absconding in a 2018 job cheating case.
The NCB, while stating that Wankhede has categorically denied the allegations, also said that as the matter is sub judice, Sail should have submitted his prayer to the court if he had anything to say.
''As he (Sail) is a witness in the case and the case is before the honourable court and is sub judice, he needs to submit his prayer to the court rather than through social media if he has anything to say,'' the statement said.
In addition, there are certain vigilance-related allegations against certain persons in the affidavit, which are based on overhearing by Prabhakar Sail, it said.
''Zonal Director of Mumbai NCB Sameer Wankhede has categorically denied these allegations. As some of the contents of the affidavit are related to vigilance matter, we are hereby forwarding the affidavit to the Director General (DG) NCB and requesting him for further necessary action,'' the statement added.
Sail, who has prepared a notarized affidavit and claimed to have submitted in court, also said that Rs 50 lakh was delivered to Gosavi by two persons, and he later returned Rs 38 lakh.
Later in that afternoon Gosavi sent 10-12 photographs on Sail's mobile phone and asked him to identify if any of these persons coming to board the cruise ship through the green gate. Sail stated that he identified only Munmun Dhamecha.
He claimed that D'Souza and Gosavi later went to Lower Parel, where a blue colour Mercedes car carrying Shah Rukh Khan's manager Pooja Dadlani arrived at a particular spot. Gosavi and Dadlani sat in that car and started talking. They all left after 15 minutes, the affidavit stated.
Sail claimed that Gosavi last called him on October 21 and told him that he was not in the country. He said he would surrender before the police soon, he stated.
Talking to reporters, Patole said the new revelations have put a question mark on the NCB's action in the case.
Maharashtra minister and NCP spokesman Nawab Malik, who has repeatedly termed the cruise drugs bust case as ''fake'', said Sail's claims were ''very serious'' and demanded a probe into it by a Special Investigation Team (SIT).
Maharashtra NCP president Jayant Patil said the alleged demand of Rs 25 crore was a serious issue.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut tweeted: ''Witness in AryanKhan case made to sign on blank paper by NCB is shocking. Also, there are reports that there was a demand of huge money. CM UddhavThackeray said that these cases are made to defame Maharashtra. This seems to be coming true. Police should take suo moto cognizance.'' Coming out in support of Wankhede, Union minister Ramdas Athawale on Sunday said that targeting a Dalit officer who is doing good work is not right.
Terming Malik's allegations against Wankhede as ''baseless'' and ''mischievous'', Athawale defended the officer saying he has not done anything wrong. Addressing a press conference, Athawale accused Malik of trying to give a religious and casteist colour while targeting Wankhede.
Malik has been repeatedly targeting the NCB and Wankhede.
The NCP leader had claimed the case related to the alleged recovery of banned drugs from the cruise ship was ''fake'' and arrests were made just based on WhatsApp chats.
A few days back, Malik had dubbed Wankhede as ''bogus'' and asserted that once ''proof'' against him is out, he cannot remain in government service even for one day. He had also said that the officer will lose his job in one year and eventually land in jail. Wankhede has, however, refuted all the allegations.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)