Mumbai, October 24
In a new twist to the cruise drugs seizure case, an ‘independent witness’ on Sunday claimed that Rs 25 crore was demanded by an official of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and other persons, including absconding witness K P Gosavi, to let off Aryan Khan, the son of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who was arrested in the case.
Prabhakar Sail, the ‘independent witness’, told media persons that he had overheard Gosavi telling one Sam D’Souza over the phone after Aryan Khan was brought to the NCB office after the October 3 raid about a demand of Rs 25 crore and to settle at Rs 18 crore as they “have to give Rs 8 crore to Sameer Wankhede”, the zonal director of NCB.
He also claimed NCB officials had asked him to sign nine to ten blank papers.
However, a senior NCB official denied the allegations, terming them as “completely false and malicious”.
An NCB team led by Wankhede earlier this month allegedly seized drugs on board a cruise ship off the Mumbai coast, following which Aryan Khan was arrested on October 3. He is currently lodged in the Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai. His bail application is likely to be heard by the Bombay High Court on October 26.
Sail is the personal bodyguard of Gosavi, who is absconding in a 2018 job cheating case.
Sail, who had accompanied Gosavi on the night of the raid, said that after Aryan Khan was brought to the NCB office, Gosavi met D’Souza.
Sail claimed he overheard Gosavi telling D’Souza over the phone about a demand of Rs 25 crore and to settle at Rs 18 crore as they “have to give Rs eight crore to Sameer Wankhede”.
The NCB, while stating that Wankhede has categorically denied the allegations, also said that as the matter is sub judice, Sail should have submitted his prayer to the court if he had anything to say.
Mumbai NCB’s Deputy Director General (DDG) Mutha Ashok Jain issued a statement saying that he came to know through social media that Sail is a witness in the case.
“As he (Sail) is a witness in the case and the case is before the honourable court and is sub judice, he needs to submit his prayer to the court rather than through social media if he has anything to say,” the statement said.
In addition, there are certain vigilance-related allegations against certain persons in the affidavit, which are based on overhearing by Prabhakar Sail, it said.
“Zonal Director of Mumbai NCB Sameer Wankhede has categorically denied these allegations. As some of the contents of the affidavit are related to vigilance matter, we are hereby forwarding the affidavit to the Director General (DG) NCB and requesting him for further necessary action,” the statement added.
Sail, who has prepared a notarized affidavit and claimed to have submitted in court, also said that Rs 50 lakh was delivered to Gosavi by two persons, and he later returned Rs 38 lakh.
Sail stated that he reached the NCB office on October 2 morning and saw Gosavi getting down along with an NCB official. NCB zonal director Samir Wankhede also came out of the office, he claimed.
Later in that afternoon, Gosavi sent 10-12 photographs on Sail’s mobile phone and asked him to identify if any of these persons coming to board the cruise ship through the green gate. Sail stated that he identified only Munmun Dhamecha.
After the raid, Gosavi, accompanied by NCB officials, took Aryan Khan in a white Innova car to the NCB office. Sail stated he and D’souza followed Gosavi in another car.
He claimed that D’Souza and Gosavi later went to Lower Parel, where a blue colour Mercedes car carrying Shah Rukh Khan’s manager Pooja Dadlani arived at a particular spot. Gosavi and Dadlani sat in that car and started talking. They all left after 15 minutes, the affidavit stated.
Sail claimed that Gosavi last called him on October 21 and told him that he was not in the country. He said he would surrender before the police soon, he stated.
As the Rs 25-crore claim caused a flutter, Maharashtra Congress unit president Nana Patole on Sunday demanded a high-level probe by the state government.
Talking to reporters, Patole said the new revelations have put a question mark on the NCB’s action in the case.
He alleged that there was room for doubt that the NCB action was part of a conspiracy to misuse Central investigating agencies to destabilise the MVA government.
“The affidavit of the independent witness Prabhakar Sail says Rs 25 crore was demanded from Shah Rukh Khan and the deal was finalised at Rs 18 crore.
“The state government should take cognisance of the allegations,” he said.
Maharashtra Minister and NCP spokesman Nawab Malik, who has repeatedly termed the cruise drugs bust case as “fake”, said Sail’s claims were “very serious” and demanded a probe into it by a Special Investigation Team (SIT).
Talking to reporters in Beed, Malik reiterated his allegation that Wankhede was involved in “extortion and terrorising the Mumbai film industry”, and said he will meet the Maharashtra Chief Minister and Home Minister on Monday in Mumbai seeking a SIT probe into Sail’s claims.
Maharashtra NCP president Jayant Patil said the alleged demand of Rs 25 crore was a serious issue.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut tweeted: “Witness in AryanKhan case made to sign on blank paper by NCB is shocking. Also, there are reports that there was a demand of huge money. CM UddhavThackeray said that these cases are made to defame Maharashtra. This seems to be coming true. Police should take suo moto cognizance.” PTI
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