War of words erupts between Maha minister, NCB official

Wankhede supervised a raid on a cruise liner off the Mumbai coast earlier this month that led to the alleged recovery of drugs, following which Aryan Khan, 23, and 19 others were arrested.
Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik alleged that NCB zonal director Sameer Wankhede was brought in by the BJP to harass Bollywood actors and visited Maldives and Dubai as a part of extortion schemes. (PTI)
Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik alleged that NCB zonal director Sameer Wankhede was brought in by the BJP to harass Bollywood actors and visited Maldives and Dubai as a part of extortion schemes. (PTI)
Updated on Oct 22, 2021 02:23 AM IST
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By, Mumbai

A verbal war erupted between Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) zonal director Sameer Wankhede on Thursday over an ongoing drug case against Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan and others.

Malik, a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and minister of minority affairs, alleged that Wankhede was brought in by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to harass Bollywood actors and visited Maldives and Dubai as a part of extortion schemes. Hours later, Wankhede hit back, saying he was never in Dubai and that his family was being targeted.

Wankhede supervised a raid on a cruise liner off the Mumbai coast earlier this month that led to the alleged recovery of drugs, following which Aryan Khan, 23, and 19 others were arrested. Malik, whose party is a key constituent in the state’s Maha Vikas Aghadi government, has repeatedly attacked Wankhede in the past and claimed that the NCB was unfairly targeting Aryan.

“Attempts were made to implicate certain people in false cases. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the entire film industry was in the Maldives. What was the officer and his family doing in the Maldives and Dubai? This has to be clarified by Sameer Wankhede,” said Malik. “We are very clear. All this ‘vasuli’ (extortion) took place in Maldives and Dubai and I will release those photos,” he added.

Malik said Wankhede was appointed after the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput in June last year and filed “bogus cases” against celebrities to get publicity. “Actor Rhea Chakraborty was framed based on the payment of 4,000. Based on WhatsApp chats, dozens of actors and actresses were paraded at the NCB office,” said the NCP spokesperson. Chakraborty is currently out on bail and the Central Bureau of Investigation is probing Rajput’s alleged suicide.

Malik said Wankhede targeted his son-in-law Sameer Khan and put him in jail for eight-and-a-half months. “The court, while giving him bail, said that the offence against him doesn’t stand legally. All this is an attempt to defame Maharashtra government and Bollywood and BJP is behind the conspiracy,” the minister added.

He referred to Wankhede’s sister Yasmeen as “lady don” and said she was in Maldives with him. Malik also released photos of Yasmeen, purportedly taken in the Maldives.

“It is a challenge to Wankhede, within a year you will lose your job. You were trying to put us in the jail, now the people of the country will see you going to jail. I have proof that he is a bogus officer,” Malik said.

Wankhede hit back, saying his family was being targeted because he was doing his job, but added that it would not affect his morale. He said photos released by Malik alleging he was in Dubai were actually taken in Mumbai. “The allegations of my visit to Dubai are totally false. This is false information. I was in Mumbai on the date the minister has mentioned in his allegations and he can fully investigate it,” he said.

“I had gone to Maldives with my family and took appropriate permissions from government authorities for it. You cannot call it as an extortion. My wishes are with Nawab Malik if he wants my job to go. My family has been abused and threatened because I am doing my job. This will not lower my morale,” the officer added.

Wankhede said he didn’t meet any celebrity in the Maldives. “He (Malik) is a big minister and I am a small government servant..., if he wants to send me to jail for service to the nation, honest work and anti-drugs action then I am welcoming it,” said the officer.

“There has been continuous personal attack since the last 15 days against my dead mother, my retired father and my sister and I am condemning the attack,” he added.

Yasmeen Wankhede, the officer’s sister, said she was free to go anywhere. “It is my personal life. I can go wherever I want to, so why should I tell him what I was doing there. Who is he, what authority does he have? I will tell this to my family and my brother. Tell him to go to court, do not waste the time of the people and press,” she said.

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Monday, January 17, 2022