A witness in the alleged drugs case involving actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan has claimed that investigators made him sign on 10 sheets of blank paper at the office of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on the day of their raid on the cruise ship.
The witness, Prabhakar Sail, also claimed on Sunday that he had heard K P Gosavi, the alleged private investigator who accompanied NCB officials on the raid, say that Rs 8 crore would have to be given to the NCB’s Mumbai-based Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede.
Gosavi, who too is an NCB witness in the case against Aryan and others, is absconding. There are several cases of cheating against him.
Sail said that he feared he would be killed by the NCB. The NCB denied his allegations.
In a statement, the Bureau said the matter was being referred to higher authorities for necessary action. NCB officer Wankhede complained to Mumbai Police that attempts were being made to frame him in a false case.
Sail, a resident of Andheri in Mumbai who offers personal bodyguard services, has said that he was employed by Gosavi on July 22.
On the morning of October 2, Gosavi had asked him to come to the NCB office in Mumbai, Sail said in a five-page statement notarised by a lawyer.
The party on board the Empress, the luxury cruise vessel owned by Cordelia Cruises, was supposed to be held that evening off the Mumbai coast.
According to Sail, Gosavi was with NCB officials at the time, and had asked him to wait in the waiting area at Green Gate, the cruise terminal in Mumbai.
“At about 1.23 pm Kiran Gosavi sent some photographs on my WhatsApp and told me to keep a watch and identify the people in the photographs and to further inform him that if any of the said persons are coming to board the cruise through Green Gate. Accordingly I was waiting,” Sail said in his statement.
“I identified one person from the said photograph and informed him (Gosavi) that he was boarded bus no. 2700 on WhatsApp. On 4.23 [pm] he replied to me that the said person who I identified is caught and that 13 people are arrested,” Sail said.
Sail claims he was then called by Gosavi, and he saw Aryan Khan in one of the cabins of the ship, and fashion model Munmun Dhamecha with NCB officials. Aryan was taken to the NCB office, and he went along, Sail said.
According to Sail, he was standing outside the NCB office when Gosavi rang him and asked him to come inside and become a panch in the case.
NCB officials had then asked him to sign on sheets of blank paper, Sail said in his statement.
Panches are supposed to be “respectable inhabitants of society” who would be independent witnesses to search and seizure operations by police. The document the witnesses prepare is called a panchnama, and is used in the trial to support the evidence presented by the prosecution.
“At around 1 am (on October 3) I received a call from K P Gosavi instructing me that I should sign as a pancha and called me to the NCB office. I reached there and [NCB Zonal Director] Sameer Wankhede instructed the staff to take my signature and name. One Salerkar from NCB told me to sign on 10 blank papers…,” the statement says.
According to Sail, Gosavi then came out of the NCB office, and proceeded to discuss matters related to money with a man named Sam D’Souza.
“Till such time we reached Lower Parel K P Gosavi was talking to Sam on the phone and stated that you put a bomb of 25 crores and let’s settle at 18 final because we have to give 8 crores to Sameer Wankhede,” Sail said.
According to Sail, who is one of the NCB’s nine independent witnesses in the case, Gosavi and D’Souza had subsequently met a person named Pooja Dadlani.
While Sail’s statement did not say who Dadlani was, Sail claimed later that Dadlani was Shah Rukh Khan’s manager. Dadlani did not respond to requests by The Indian Express for a comment.
Sail has claimed that Gosavi asked him to go to Tardeo traffic signal in south Mumbai and collect Rs 50 lakh.
“I reached around 9.45 am at the said place where one white colour car no. 5102 came and gave me 2 bags filled with cash which I took to Vashi at his (Gosavi’s) home and gave it to Kiran Gosavi.”
Sail claims that Gosavi later instructed him to give the money to Sam D’Souza, which he did near Trident Hotel.
However, Gosavi himself went missing that day, and has not been seen since.
“K P Gosavi is missing now and I now fear that NCB officials and other persons involved may kill me or abduct me like K P Gosavi. As seen in the big cases, witnesses often are killed or taken away and I therefore want to state the truth,” Sail said.
In a statement, Mutha Ashok Jain, NCB’s deputy director general in Mumbai, said:
“As he (Sail) is a witness in the case and as the case is before the honorable court and sub judice, he needs to submit his prayer to the honorable court rather than through social media if he has anything to say. In addition, there are certain vigilance-related allegations against certain persons in the affidavit which are based on overhearing Mr Prabhakar [Sail].”
Although the five-page statement released by Sail has been notarised and has the appearance of an affidavit, it has not been submitted to any court.
“Our zonal director, Mumbai Zonal Unit, Mr Sameer Wankhede, has categorically denied these allegations. As some of the contents of the affidavit are related to vigilance matters, I am hereby forwarding the affidavit to the Director General Narcotics Control Bureau and requesting him for further necessary action,” Jain said.
Soon after the news of the raid on the cruise ship broke, Gosavi’s picture with Aryan Khan was circulated widely on social media. On Sunday, Sail also released a video that purportedly showed Aryan in custody, with Gosavi apparently making him speak to someone on a mobile phone.
On October 6, the Nationalist Congress Party had released videos showing Gosavi leading Aryan by the hand into the NCB office. NCP spokesperson and Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Nawab Malik had at the time questioned the NCB’s decision to allow an individual who was not part of the Bureau to handle such a high-profile accused.
As per documents submitted in court, Sail has been named as Pancha No. 2 in the panchnama conducted by the NCB on October 2. This panchnama was done at the international cruise terminal with regard to five accused — Aryan, Arbaaz Merchant, Ishmeet Singh Chadha, Gomit Chopra, and Vikrant Chhokar. Gosavi is Pancha No. 1 in this panchnama.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Sunday demanded an inquiry into Sail’s allegations. “Witness in Aryan Khan case made to sign on blank paper by NCB is shocking. Also there are reports that there was demand of huge money. CM Uddhav Thackeray said that this cases are made to defame Maharashtra. This seems to be coming true,” Raut posted on Twitter. Tagging Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil, he said, “Police should take suo motu cognizance.”
State Congress President Nana Patole demanded that the Maharashtra government institute a high-level inquiry into the allegations.
Nawab Malik said that he would meet Chief Minister Thackeray and Home Minister Walse Patil to ask for a probe into the allegations by a special investigation team.
Sameer Wankhede, who is heading the NCB investigations in the case, sent a complaint to the Commissioner of Mumbai Police on Sunday seeking protection from “unknown persons” who he said were trying to frame him in a false case.
In the one-page complaint on the NCB’s official letterhead, Wankhede said, “It has come to my notice that some precipitate legal action for framing me falsely is being planned by unknown persons in relation to alleged vigilance related issue in NCB Cr. No. 94/2021 (the cruise drugs case).”
Wankhede did not name anyone in his complaint, but alleged that he had received threats of being jailed or dismissed on public media by “highly respectable public functionaries”.
Senior Mumbai Police officers declined to comment on Wankhede’s complaint.
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