Mumbai: NCB officer Sameer Wankhede – investigating the Aryan Khan drugs case – hit back at Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik after comments about expensive clothes – “shirts worth ₹ 50,000” – and allegations of a WhatsApp chat link between his sister (a lawyer) and a now-jailed drug smuggler.
Mr Wankhede said a drug peddler had approached his sister, Yasmeen Wankhede, for legal representation, but was told that she did not handle cases under the NDPS, or the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. The NCB officer slammed Mr Malik for making “false allegations”.
“A (drug) peddler, Salman, approached my sister… but she doesn’t take NDPS cases, so she sent him back. Salman tried to trap us via a middleman. He was arrested and is in jail. False allegations being levelled by sharing his WhatsApp chat,” Mr Wankhede was quoted by news agency ANI.
Earlier today Nationalist Congress Party leader Mr Malik, who has been relentless in his attacks on Sameer Wankhede and the NCB’s handling of the drugs-on-cruise case, shared WhatsApp chats between Ms Wankhede and an unidentified phone number.
The chats indicated Ms Wankhede had shared her business card and office location.
“I am sharing a WhatsApp chat with you,” Mr Malik told reporters, “In these chats ‘lady don’ Yasmeen Wankhede is talking to a person arrested over drugs. She is sharing her visiting card and address. Why is the sister of the NCB officer communicating with a drug accused?”
“This is a private army’s game,” Mr Malik alleged, referring to claims that Mr Wankhede has a “private army” to frame people over drugs charges and extort money, “The ‘lady don’ is also linked with this.”
Mr Wankhede clarified that the accused in question – who he said was a drug-smuggling middleman – had earlier also given a false complaint to Mumbai Police and that the complaint had been closed.
“The middleman tried to trap us… had given a false complaint earlier this year to Mumbai Police. But nothing came out of it. After that peddlers like Salman were used to trap my family. Such attempts are going on… the drug mafia is behind this,” the anti-drugs officer said.
On the topic of his “expensive clothes”, Mr Wankhede said the claims were rumours. “As far as my expensive clothes are concerned, it is just a rumour. He (Mr Malik) does not have knowledge,” he said.
Mr Malik had claimed Mr Wankhede could be seen wearing shoes worth ₹ 2 lakh, shirts and t-shirts that cost more than ₹ 50,000 and ₹ 30,000, respectively, and had watches worth ₹ 20 lakh.
“How can an honest and upright officer afford such expensive clothes? He extorted crores by wrongly framing people. If this is the living of an honest officer, we wish it for the whole country,” he declared.
Sameer Wankhede is the lead investigator in the drugs-on-cruise case, over which Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s son, Aryan Khan, and several others have been arrested.
Mr Wankhede, however, is facing an internal inquiry after an agency witness – Prabhakar Sail – made allegations of a ₹ 8 crore payoff (part of a ₹ 18 crore deal) involving the NCB officer.
He has denied all charges and the NCB has supported its officer.
Aryan Khan – whom the NCB has labelled ‘accused no. 1’ – was released on bail Sunday after spending over 20 days in jail. Bail was given by the Bombay High Court.
Ironically, the case against Aryan Khan and the two other principal accused – Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha, both also given bail – rests almost solely on WhatsApp chats.
Aryan Khan was arrested October 3 but no drugs were found on him.