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Sameer Wankhede deposes before NCB vigilance panel in drugs-on-cruise case

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Mumbai: NCB‘s former Mumbai zonal director, Sameer Wankhede, on Sunday appeared before a departmental vigilance panel in Delhi – which is probing allegations of extortion against the central agency that conducted the drugs-on-cruise raid leading to the arrest of actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan and others.

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Official sources said Wankhede presented his version and official documents related to the raid, which took place in October last year at the international cruise terminal in Mumbai, before NCB Deputy Director General (DDG) for the northern region Gyaneshwar Singh.

He and his team from NCB Mumbai had earlier too deposed before the vigilance panel and it is understood that the latest deposition is part of the process to conclude the inquiry following which a report will be submitted by the DDG to the NCB Director General.

Singh, a 1999-batch IPS officer of Himachal Pradesh cadre, is the chief vigilance officer (CVO) of the NCB and was tasked to conduct the probe after Prabhakar Sail, an independent witness in the cruise drugs case, had filed an affidavit claiming that there was an extortion bid of Rs 25 crore by some NCB Mumbai officials and others for letting off Aryan Khan in the case.

Twenty people were arrested in this case and all of them are now out on bail, including Aryan Khan.

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Sail had claimed that he overheard that Rs 8 crore ‘bribe’ out of this money was to be paid to Wankhede.

Sail was the bodyguard of a private person and another witness in this case – K P Gosavi – who is now in jail following his arrest by the Pune Police in a fraud case. Gosavi was arrested by the police after the NCB cruise raid and the vigilance panel will also question him in jail before preparing its final report.

Sail had also claimed that he saw Gosavi meeting Shah Rukh Khan’s manager Pooja Dadlani post the Cordelia cruise raid and that he was asked to sign ”9-10 blank pages” in the presence of Wankhede.

Wankhede had maintained that all due procedures were followed during the raid and the allegations were made to deter him from taking strong action against high-profile drug traffickers.

Other officials from the NCB Mumbai team involved in this case have also deposed before the DDG Singh-led panel here this week, sources said.

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Singh and his team had last year travelled to Mumbai to conduct an on-spot investigation, questioning and recording statements of all those involved including Wankhede, his NCB Mumbai team, SailAryan Khan and others. The vigilance team also took possession of the NCB case documents and the seizure memo.

Gosavi’s close proximity and photographs with Aryan Khan during the NCB raids had raised questions and the matter is part of the departmental vigilance probe.

The tenure of Wankhede, an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer of the 2008 batch, with the NCB ended last month as he was not given an extension in the federal anti-narcotics agency. His services were then put at the disposal of his parent organisation DRI.

The 42-year-old officer served as the head or the zonal director of the NCB Mumbai unit from August 31, 2020 during which he investigated numerous drugs cases, including the one linked to the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput and the one leading to the arrest of Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik’s son-in-law.

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