‘Please man. Please have mercy on me and my family’
Indian Revenue Services officer Sameer Wankhede submitted WhatsApp chats with actor Shah Rukh Khan to the Bombay High Court, saying they support his stand that there was nothing amiss in his investigation into the Cordelia drugs bust case. These chats provide insight into parental anguish and SRK's frame of mind as his son Aryan faced jail. The CBI filed an FIR against Wankhede and two other NCB officers for allegedly trying to extort ?25 crore from SRK to drop Aryan's name from the case.
MUMBAI: In his plea before the Bombay High Court seeking quashing of the FIR against him, Indian Revenue Services officer Sameer Wankhede appended a series of WhatsApp chats between him and actor Shah Rukh Khan dating from October 3, 2021 to October 15, 2021. It is Wankhede’s case that there was not anything amiss in his investigation into the Cordelia drugs bust case and that these chats with Shah Rukh Khan support his stand. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed an FIR on May 11, 2023, against Wankhede and two other NCB officers for allegedly trying to extort ₹25 crore from SRK to drop Aryan Khan’s name from the case.
These chats also, for the first time, provide an insight into parental anguish and SRK’s frame of mind as his son Aryan faced jail. Another sub-text running through the communication is a father’s need to set his son on a reformatory path. It is not known whether these WhatsApp chats submitted to the court represent the full extent of communication between SRK and Wankhede during that period.
From what has been presented to court, it surfaces SRK had sent the first message to Wankhede at 10:55 am on October 3, 2021, the day his son was arrested, requesting an audience with the officer. Wankhede responded to the message at 5:34 pm asking for a call. Subsequently, SRK thanked him for his “thoughts and personal insights” adding that the incident “will prove to be a turning point in his life I promise, in a good way”.
In successive messages over the next few days, the actor displayed his “highest regard” for Wankhede’s “uprightness” to which the officer responded saying Aryan “has been a good kid all the while and hope that he will for sure now be reformed”. Wankhede said he had counselled Aryan, promising that his “hard days” will possibly be over soon.
“I empathise (with) you as a father. Things will be fine,” Wankhede had texted in the morning of October 7, 2021. SRK responded with a “thank you”. But the ordeal was clearly far from over, as on October 13, he begged for kindness as a father, to which Wankhede expressed: “I wish I could talk to you as a friend and explain (to) you about the current situation and not as a zonal director, all the murk and unscrupulous elements are vitiating the entire atmosphere.”
SRK insisted that his son was not a part of that world. “You also know that. You know his part is minuscule in it,” he said, stressing on the need for a corrective course and that Aryan “has had his quota”. As a father, he promised to make his son a better person. He subsequently touched upon how Aryan was getting caught in the cross-fire of people with vested interests. “I spoke as a father to them and even chided them that they are harming my kid in their selfish interest. Please man don’t make him pay for these a******s,” SRK had said.
Touching upon his own middle-class upbringing, SRK emphasised they are in fact a simple set of people “and my son has been a bit wayward but he doesn’t deserve being in a jail like a hardened criminal. Please have heart man”. He added that as a father and a family man, he was trying to do his best within the bounds of law. “It’s a father to father request. I love my children, as you do yours, and exterior forces cannot be allowed to cloud a father to father feeling,” SRK had texted.
On October 14, Wankhede expressed unhappiness with reference to “recent developments” in the case. Displaying that he was working under pressure, he underscored that “there are certain technical ties in the law”, and asked SRK to “just have patience as this is going to be over soon”.
“This will break him as a human being. His spirit will be destroyed,” said the father. “You promised you will reform my child and not put him in a place where he may come out completely battered and broken.” He subsequently told Wankhede that he “will use everything (in) my power to make sure they listen and retract whatever they have said. I promise you I will do all of it and won’t shirk away from begging them to stop. But please send my son home.”
Thereafter, there was a set of messages between the two, not appended in the set submitted to the Bombay High Court. In the interaction SRK thanked him, saying he had “made the best effort in an official capacity and I did so too as a father. But sometimes our best is not good enough”.