Sameer Wankhede, the Mumbai zonal director of the Narcotics Control Bureau who has been at the centre of a storm ever since arresting Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan in the cruise ship drugs case, has returned to the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) after his tenure at the NCB ended a few days ago.
Posted with the DRI, Wankhede was “loaned” to the NCB in September 2020, after the central drugs investigation agency registered a case in connection with the suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, and received a three-month extension later.
Soon after Aryan’s arrest, NCP leader and minister Nawab Malik raised the issue of a BJP worker and a man with a criminal record being two of the ten independent witnesses in the case. K P Gosavi, a witness whose selfie with Aryan inside the NCB office went viral on social media, was wanted in a cheating case. Further allegations that Gosavi was using Wankhede’s name to extort Pooja Dadlani, personal assistant to actor Shah Rukh Khan, are being probed.
Another witness, Manish Bhanusali, whose social media profiles said he was a BJP vice-president, was seen taking one of the accused, Arbaaz Merchant, to the NCB office.
Yet another witness, Prabhakar Sail, who was Gosavi’s bodyguard, alleged before the media that he had been made by an NCB officer to sign blank papers which were part of the panchnama in the case. Days later a witness in another NCB case, Shekhar Kamble from Navi Mumbai, alleged he too was made to sign blank papers.
Malik, whose son-in-law Sameer Khan was arrested by the NCB in a drugs case, alleged that Wankhede was raised as a Muslim but had availed of reservation benefits by claiming to be from a Scheduled Caste community to secure a job in the Indian Revenue Service.
In November, amid all the allegations, the NCB transferred six cases, including the cruise ship drug bust case, from Wankhede to a special investigation team with officers from the NCB headquarters in New Delhi.