Bollywood stars targeted to divert attention from Gujarat drug seizures: Malik

On Wednesday, 17 kilograms of heroin and methamphetamine, cumulatively worth 88.25 crore, were seized in the state of Gujarat from a vegetable vendor from Maharashtra
Bollywood stars are being targeted to divert attention from drug seizures in Gujarat, Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik has said. (HT file photo)
Bollywood stars are being targeted to divert attention from drug seizures in Gujarat, Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik has said. (HT file photo)
Updated on Nov 12, 2021 12:01 AM IST
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By, Mumbai

In yet another day of accusations and countercharges, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and state minister Nawab Malik on Thursday raised questions over the large haul of drugs seized from Gujarat in the recent weeks and said that Gujarat’s role in the country’s illegal narcotics supply chain should be investigated by central agencies.

Later in the day, Malik’s daughter, Nilofer Khan sent a legal notice to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Devendra Fadnavis and his wife Amruta, seeking an apology from them for claiming that her husband, Sameer, had possessed drugs. This was soon followed by Amruta Fadnavis sending a legal notice to Malik demanding deletion of tweets pertaining to Fadnavis’ alleged connections with drug dealers, within 48 hours.

Since Monday, Fadnavis and Malik have traded accusations of wrongdoing. While Fadnavis accused Malik of buying property from persons linked with the underworld, and an accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, Malik accused Fadnavis of protecting a fake currency racket in the aftermath of the 2016 demonetisation, while the latter was chief minister of Maharashtra. On November 1, Malik had also tweeted a photo of Fadnavis and his wife with an accused in a drug peddling case and claimed that the two knew him; the former CM and Amruta have denied this charge.

On Thursday, Malik raised questions over the recent seizure of drugs worth 313 crore in Devbhumi Dwarka, and asked if “a drug game (racket)” was “being run from Gujarat”.

“The Gujarat drug connection needs to be exposed and those involved need to be brought to justice. With another seizure of drug consignment at Dwarka in Gujarat on Wednesday, it has been established that drug consignments come to Gujarat via sea route and are distributed in the country,” Malik said.

On Wednesday, the Gujarat police seized 17 kilogrammes of heroin and methamphetamine, cumulatively worth 88.25 crore from Devbhumi Dwarka district of Gujarat. They arrested three persons, including a vegetable vendor from Mumbra in Thane district called Sajjad Ghosi, which led to a recovery of 47 more packets of drugs from a residential premise in Salaya, Gujarat, worth 225 crore. In all, the haul totals 313.25 crore. In September, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) seized around 3,000 kg of heroin worth around 21,000 crore from Mundra port in Kutch district. The case is being investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Malik drew a connection between independent witnesses in a drug raid conducted by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on a cruise ship in Mumbai and a Gujarat cabinet minister.

“All those names such as Manish Bhanushali, Dhaval Bhanushali, KP Gosavi, Sunil Patil that cropped up in the investigation of Aryan Khan case, were operating from Gujarat. They used to stay at five star hotels and appear to be close confidantes of cabinet minister Kiritsinh Rana ji. Two major drug hauls have been seized from Gujarat, which creates a suspicion that a racket is active in the state. The central agencies like National Investigation Agency and NCB should conduct an impartial and thorough probe,” Malik said.

Malik has tweeted photos of both Patil and Gosavi with the minister in past weeks.

Manish Bhanushali and KP Gosavi are independent witnesses for the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in a drug raid conducted on a cruise ship docked off the coast of Mumbai on October 2. The cruise raid led to the arrest of 20 persons, including Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son, Aryan (23).

Earlier this week, BJP leader Mohit Kamboj claimed that Patil was an NCP party worker who gave the tip-off about the cruise ship party to Bhanushali. Patil has denied both allegations.

Gujarat minister Kiritsinh Rana and the ruling BJP on Thursday refuted Malik’s allegations.

“I don’t know any of the people (named by Malik). We are catching people (involved in drugs trade) in Gujarat, too. The law is equal for everyone and those who have done anything wrong will be punished,” Rana said.

“Malik ji, you should first investigate how the drug mafia Sajjad managed to run this illegal trade without any fear from Mumbai and who was protecting him till now. I am proud of Gujarat police for seizing the drugs” minister of state for Home Harsh Sanghavi said in a tweet.

Malik on Thursday said that Bollywood celebrities possessing few grams of drugs were being penalised by central agencies to create a perception that Mumbai is a hub of drugs. This was being done to divert attention from drug seizures in Gujarat and allow the illegal trade without hurdle.

Malik’s son-in-law Sameer Khan was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in January and was released on bail in September; Malik has alleged that Sameer was wrongly arrested. Fadnavis on November 1 had claimed that drugs were found in Sameer Khan’s possession.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Thursday said that the haul of drugs from Gujarat’s Devbhumi Dwarka district is a matter of concern, and said that the NCB officials must study the 350-kg drugs that were seized in September.

“It is a matter of concern that drugs have been recovered from Dwarka. The officers and zonal directors [of the NCB] who had got international acclaim by seizing a gram or half a gram [of drug], must study this 300-350 kg drugs. Over 3500kg of drugs was found in Gujarat earlier, now again drugs have been recovered worth about 100 crore. They must see if the people from Gujarat film industry or children of the rich were involved in this. The country must know what the team of NCB is doing in Gujarat,” Raut said in Delhi.


    Faisal is with the political team and covers state administration and state politics. He also covers NCP.

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