Wankhede led NCB team demanded Rs 25cr from SRK to free Aryan Khan: CBItext_fields
Mumbai: In a recent development, an inquiry into the raid led by IRS officer Sameer Wankhede and his team from the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on the Cordelia cruise ship has revealed alarming irregularities. The probe has led to the registration of a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) FIR against Wankhede and his colleagues.
During the raid, it was discovered that the names of approximately 17 suspects, including an alleged drug dealer, were deliberately dropped, and these individuals were allowed to leave without proper documentation.
Additionally, the NCB officials manipulated the situation to create an impression that independent witness K P Gosavi was an NCB official. Gosavi later demanded a staggering amount of Rs 18 crore from the family of Aryan Khan, son of renowned actor Shah Rukh Khan, in exchange for the youth's freedom.
The vigilance probe, which served as the basis for the CBI FIR, further revealed several concerns. Wankhede was unable to provide satisfactory explanations regarding his foreign visits, including the misdeclaration of expenditures related to those trips. Furthermore, he engaged in the sale and purchase of expensive wristwatches from a private entity, Viral Rajan, without disclosing this activity to the department.
Wankhede, a 2008-batch IRS officer who headed the NCB Mumbai zone at the time, led a team of officers in the raid that took place on October 2, 2021, off the Mumbai coast. The NCB claimed to have seized various illicit substances during the operation, including cocaine, mephedrone, marijuana, MDMA pills, and a significant amount of cash. Consequently, 17 individuals, including Aryan Khan, were arrested.
The Special Enquiry Team (SET) involved in the vigilance probe disclosed that certain suspects' names were initially dropped from the first information note (I-Note) during the Cordelia raid, and other accused individuals were subsequently included through modifications to suit the proceedings. The original I-Note listed 27 names, while the modified version contained only 10.
The investigation further highlighted that the search of several other individuals, who were suspected of involvement, was carried out without proper documentation that includes Siddarth Shah, who allegedly played a role in supplying charas to Arbaz Merchant (a friend of Aryan Khan). He was permitted to walk free, despite admitting to receiving money from Arbaz for drug purchases and possessing incriminating chat records indicating his own drug consumption.
The report also uncovered that the accused persons were transported to the NCB office in the private vehicle of independent witness K P Gosavi. It was apparent that Gosavi, despite not being NCB personnel, was intentionally presented in a manner that suggested he had custody of the accused. This allowed him to mingle with the suspects, visit the NCB office after the raid, take selfies, and record voice notes of an accused individual—an act in violation of the norms governing an independent witness.
Disturbingly, this situation enabled Gosavi and his associate Sanvile D'Souza, among others, to conspire to extort Rs 25 crore from Aryan Khan's family by threatening them with false accusations of narcotics possession. Ultimately, the settlement was reached at Rs 18 crore. It was revealed that a token bribe amount of Rs 50 lakh was initially accepted by Gosavi and D'Souza, but a portion of the sum was later returned to them.