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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Being forced to name Ranbir, Rampal, Morea: accused in NCB probe

Kshitij Prasad had earlier said the NCB had forced him to implicate Johar. The agency had denied it stating that the investigation was being carried out in a “professional manner”.

Written by Mohamed Thaver , Sadaf Modak | Mumbai | Updated: October 4, 2020 1:50:08 pm
Bollywood drugs case, Kshitij Prasad, Kshitij Prasad case, drugs case Bollywood, Mumbai news, city news, Indian ExpressAt the time of his arrest and remand before the court last month, Prasad claimed that the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) had forced him to falsely implicate Johar, actors Ranbir Kapoor, Arjun Rampal and Dino Morea.

A FORMER executive producer of Dharmatic Entertainment, a sister concern of Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions who was arrested last week, told a court on Saturday that he was forced by officials of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) to falsely implicate actors Ranbir Kapoor, Arjun Rampal and Dino Morea.

Kshitij Prasad had earlier said the NCB had forced him to implicate Johar. The agency had denied it stating that the investigation was being carried out in a “professional manner”.

“I have been repeatedly harassed and coerced into falsely implicating Dino Morea, Arjun Rampal and Ranbir Kapoor in the present proceedings despite me repeatedly stating that I do not know the said persons and have no knowledge of such allegations,” Prasad said in an application before the court on Saturday. He said that he was again made to sign false statements prepared by NCB officials and that he was retracting from them, including the self-incriminatory portions.

Prasad was in NCB custody from September 27 to October 3. On Saturday, the court sent him to jail till October 6.

The NCB countered Prasad’s allegations stating that he was “totally non-cooperative, adamant and arrogant” and had refused to sign a statement he himself had given. “He was trying to bargain hard for putting his signature on the statement in lieu of removal of Section 27A of the NDPS Act,” the NCB submitted to the court. The section is a non-bailable offence pertaining to financing illicit traffic. Special public prosecutor Atul Sarpande also submitted the statements recorded by the NCB to the court and said that they didn’t contain any of the names mentioned by Prasad.

Also Read | No arrests in first case by NCB against Rhea Chakraborty, to be treated as ‘inquiry FIR’

In his written plea submitted through lawyer Satish Maneshinde, Prasad said, “I say that I am being mentally, emotionally and psychologically harassed and abused by the complainant (NCB) into making false statements.” He said that he was surrounded by NCB officials who dictated statements and made him sign them under duress, threat and coercion stating that they would implicate his wife and other family members if he did not.

“Upon reading of the statement, the accused also realised that many parts of the statement were unilaterally included by the officers without his consent (and) are completely false,” Maneshinde said.

The NCB claims Prasad was part of a conspiracy for drug procurement and distribution and had received ganja from co-accused Ankush Arneja. According to the NCB, Arneja was connected with accused Anuj Keshwani, from whom commercial quantities of drugs were allegedly seized.

The NCB has also claimed links between Prasad and other alleged peddlers accused of connections with late actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s cook Dipesh Sawant and actor Rhea Chakraborty and her brother Showik.

From Explained | When does an accused’s statement become admissible in a trial?

The NCB told The Indian Express earlier that Prasad had initially said he did not supply narcotics to anyone but used it for personal consumption after purchasing it from the alleged drug peddlers arrested in the case. An official said that during interrogation, Prasad had denied consuming ganja, but that they had established he had been in contact with the alleged drug peddlers more than 20 times. This is why the charge of financing and conspiracy had been added, the official said.

However, the official said they had not yet established whom Prasad allegedly supplied to or the quantity he did, but claimed that his prima facie involvement in financing someone “was enough to charge him”.

Twenty arrests have been made so far in the case, arising out of the probe into Rajput’s death, on an alleged Bollywood drug nexus. Among those arrested is Chakraborty and Showik, with the Bombay High Court earlier reserving an order on their bail applications.

While Chakraborty is also facing a case on WhatsApp chats purportedly dealing with drugs, and a probe on money laundering charges, no arrests have been made in those. Chakraborty is also being investigated by the CBI over an abetment to suicide case registered by Rajput’s family.

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