The Aryan Khan drug case: Victims as villains, and villains as victims

The stink raised by NCB’s arrest of Aryan Khan promises to last for a long time

Clockwise (Sameer Wankhede, Aryan Khan, Kiran Gosavi, Nawab Malik)
Clockwise (Sameer Wankhede, Aryan Khan, Kiran Gosavi, Nawab Malik)

Gautam S Mengle

Who are the victims and who the villains? Almost a month after the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) frisked passengers boarding cruise ship Cordelia (796 cabins and capacity to carry 1,800 passengers) on October 2 and 3 (Saturday and Sunday), nobody is quite certain.

Nobody has emerged from the raid smelling of roses and these are the reasons why.

Narcotics Control Bureau: If the objective was to raid a rave party on board the cruise ship, why didn’t they wait for the ship to sail? If the Bureau arrested 10-12 people out of 1,300 passengers, why were blood and urine samples not tested? How did NCB allow two ‘independent witnesses’ to escort the arrested to the NCB office and how did the personal bodyguard of one of the witnesses, Prabhakar Sail, become ‘witness no. 1’? Will CCTV footage from the terminal vindicate the NCB?

Neeraj Yadav: Bhopal resident Yadav claims to have received information about a rave party on board the ship from a friend who too was invited to join the party. Yadav called up his ‘friend’ Manish Bhanushali, who was in Ahmedabad. Bhanushali asked him to pass on details to Kiran Gosavi and informed he was on his way to Mumbai. What is the background of this Bhopal resident and his friend?

Kiran Gosavi: Arrested by Pune Police in a fraud case filed in 2018, Gosavi who was absconding, according to Pune Police travelled to UP, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and to various places in Maharashtra after the arrest of Aryan Khan, son of Shah Rukh Khan, and stayed in hotels as Sachin Patil. He identified himself as a businessman engaged in import-export, security and as a private detective. NCB allowed him access to Aryan Khan and to its officials. Who is he?

Prabhakar Sail: Engaged as a personal bodyguard of Gosavi in July, NCB’s witness no. 1 alleged in an affidavit that he overheard Gosavi discuss with one Sam D’Souza (Bhanushali says D’Souza was present during the NCB raid) how to extort Rs 25 crore from Shah Rukh Khan. He also claims he carried Rs 38 lakhs in cash to D’Souza. He also produced videos and pics taken with his mobile, phone and car numbers. He claimed he was made to sign on blank papers at the NCB office. How credible is Sail and why did he turn hostile?

Sameer Wankhede: Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer Wankhede, who first shot to prominence by arresting Rhea Chakraborty, girlfriend of deceased actor Sushant Singh Rajput, last year, is being accused of extortion, planting of evidence, ignoring procedures and framing people.

Aryan Khan: The 23-year-old claims to have been invited to the cruise when he was nabbed. No drug was found on him. But he is accused of ‘conscious possession’ by the NCB since six grams of Charas were found hidden in the socks of his friend Arbaaz Merchant. NCB claims Khan confessed (not admissible as evidence) that he knew about the contraband and intended to consume it. NCB claims his WhatsApp chats show he has links with international traffickers.

Nawab Malik: The NCP minister has targeted NCB and Wankhede almost on a daily basis, accusing them of planting narcotics, framing people falsely and defaming Bollywood and Maharashtra. He also accuses Wankhede of extortion, accuses him of having travelled to Dubai and Maldives for rendezvous. Malik, whose son-in-law was arrested by NCB and spent eight months in jail, is accused of settling personal scores. He denies the charge and accuses Wankhede of being a Muslim but joining the IRS on a reserved quota by claiming to be Hindu.

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