NCP sees a BJP link to Aryan Khan arrest in drugs case; NCB rebuttal follows
MUMBAI: Two men, who escorted Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan and another accused Arbaaz Merchant to the Narcotics Control Bureau’s (NCB) Mumbai office, were private individuals and not officers, Nationalist Congress Party leader Nawab Malik said on Wednesday. Malik allegedly that the arrest was a conspiracy involving NCB and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to defame Maharashtra, the state government and the film industry, a charge that was promptly denied by the NCB and BJP. NCB later said the two men were among the nine independent witnesses.
One of them is Manish Bhanushali who claims to be a BJP office-bearer and the other is KP Gosawi, who claims to be a private detective, said Malik at a Press conference in Mumbai where he played two widely-circulated video clips of Aryan Khan and Arbaaz Merchant. In the first, KP Gosawi can be seen bringing Aryan Khan to NCB office and in the second, Manish Bhanushali can be seen bringing Arbaaz Merchant to the NCB office, Malik said.
In what capacity were the two private individuals allowed to bring high-profile accused to its office, asked Malik, who is also the minority affairs minister in Uddhav Thackeray cabinet. He also asked the BJP what its connection was with the two people.
Gosawi had earlier also taken a widely-circulated selfie with Aryan Khan before the 23-year-old was formally placed under arrest on Sunday, initially triggering criticism on social media on the assumption that the man was an NCB officer. NCB subsequently issued a statement, clarifying that the individual was not an NCB officer.
“According to the Bhanushali’s Facebook page, he is a BJP vice president and has photos with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah, BJP chief JP Nadda and other senior leaders including those from Maharashtra such as Devendra Fadnavis and Ashish Shelar,” Malik told reporters at party headquarters at Ballard Pier in South Mumbai.
Malik alleged that the BJP, which is in power at the Centre, in connivance with the federal drug enforcement agency NCB, was trying to defame Maharashtra, Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government and film industry, which is based in the commercial capital, Mumbai.
“BJP is using NCB to defame people who are against them and also using its leaders and workers in raids. What is Bhanushali’s connection with the massive drug haul caught in Gujarat...BJP in connivance with NCB is defaming Maharashtra, MVA government and the film Industry,” Nawab Malik alleged.
“It all started with Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death case. The claims were made that he was murdered because of drugs and NCB’s zonal office in Mumbai came into limelight. Stories were planted, attempts were made to defame film industry, those related to the industry were called one by one, cameras were set up in advance and news channels ran the stories 24x7 and a perception was created that entire Bollywood, which is based in Mumbai, has a nexus with drug racket. In the same series, we saw that Aryan Khan was arrested on October 3,” he added.
NCB takes a swipe at Nawab Malik
Mumbai zonal director of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Sameer Wankhede said there is no substance in the allegations.
NCB deputy director general Gyaneshwar Singh later told reporters that the ahecy officials followed the legal provisions. Singh said there were nine independent witnesses and Manish Bhanushali and Kiran Gosawi were among them.
“The allegations made against the agency are baseless and if anyone has any reservation, he or she can approach the court and we will appropriately reply to them,” Singh added. The allegations are perhaps levelled by persons affected by the action taken by the agency, Singh said, without mentioning that NCB recently arrested Nawab Malik’s son-in-law in a drugs related case.
The BJP said the NCP should clarify whether they are opposing or supporting the action against drug mafia.
“First of all, NCP should clarify whether they support or oppose action against the drug mafia. We suspect Nawab Malik has other intentions behind making the allegations rather than supporting actor Shah Rukh Khan,” said Keshav Upadhye, Maharashtra BJP spokesperson.
“It is up to the NCB to decide if they want to take action over involving private people in the raid. We have no objection to it. By having pictures with senior BJP leaders, one cannot become a BJP leader,” he clarified, in response to the allegations of BJP’s involvement in the raid.
Bhanushali said he was a BJP party worker. “I did not bring Arbaaz Merchant to NCB office but was accompanying the NCB officers as I was asked by them to come and sign the documents as a witness. The raid was conducted with the help of the information provided by me about the drug party, Bhanushali told ABP Majha, a Marathi news channel.