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NCB decided not to act, Sameer Wankhede went ahead

The NCB is yet to clarify if Sameer Wankhede will continue to supervise the investigation in the Aryan Khan Case while the vigilance inquiry is on.
Sameer Wankhede (ANI PHOTO.)
Updated on Oct 27, 2021 04:40 AM IST
ByNeeraj Chauhan, New Delhi

Narcotics Control Bureau’s Operations Unit, based mostly in the anti-drugs enforcement agency’s HQ in Delhi was aware of the party planned on the Cordelia cruise ship on the night of October 2, but decided not to act on it because there was no big players involved and the quantity of drugs on board was likely to be insignificant, people familiar with the matter said.

Sameer Wankhede , who is Zonal Director of NCB’s Mumbai unit and also had information about the party, went ahead with the raid with his team and independent witnesses, said an official at NCB, who didn’t want to be named. A second official, who too asked not to be named, said there was nothing untoward in Wankhede’s action because a zonal director in NCB has complete freedom to conduct operations independently on the basis of verifiable information.

HT could not verify whether file was moved in the headquarters in connection with the tip-off on the rave.

Director General of NCB S N Pradhan didn’t respond to text messages and repeated calls by HT.

Wankhede said he was “not aware of such thing” in response to a specific query on the Operations Unit having information about the rave but deciding it wasn’t worth their time.

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The Operations Unit has pan-India jurisdiction, while a zonal office can only carry out operations in areas under its control – Maharashtra and Goa in Mumbai Zone’s case.

With NCB now initiating a vigilance inquiry into the matter, chances are that the agency will look into Wankhede’s informer network and the kind of people whose assistance the zonal director seems to have taken, including a private detective KP Gosavi whose role has come under scrutiny, and who is currently on the run.

The Mumbai team has alleged the drug bust involving 23-year old Aryan Khan, actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son has “international links”.

Thus far, 20 have been arrested in this case, including Delhi based event management professionals, Nigerian nationals and Mumbai based drug peddlers, but only 13 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of mephedrone, 21 grams of Charas, 22 pills of MDMA (ecstasy) and 1.33 lakh of cash has been recovered by NCB Mumbai from the cruise ship and subsequent raids. On this aspect, the Operations Unit’s information does seem to have been accurate.

On Tuesday, Wankhede met senior officials of NCB at the agency’s headquarters at R K Puram, Delhi. He reached Delhi late on Monday and his visit here comes in the backdrop of the NCB ordering a vigilance inquiry into the allegations made by a witness, Prabhakar Sail , who claimed Gosavi and Wankhede were part of an attempt to secure a 25 crore payoff to let Khan go.

The federal agency’s deputy director general (DDG) of northern region , Gyaneshwar Singh, who is now heading the vigilance inquiry in the matter, told mediapersons outside NCB office he is yet to call anyone for the probe.

“When it is required, I will call him (Wankhede),” Singh, an IPS officer, said. Singh is supposed to travel to Mumbai with a team for the inquiry.

Wankhede claimed on his arrival in Delhi on Monday that he was not summoned by HQ because of the case but was here for some work, adding that he has been fair in the case. Interestingly, his wife and sister held a press conference in Mumbai to clear his name, even as Mumbai police said they were looking into all the allegations against Wankhede.

The NCB is yet to clarify if Wankhede will continue to supervise the investigation in the Aryan Khan Case while the vigilance inquiry is on.

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