Updated: May 28, 2022 8:35:14 am
In the days following the arrest of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh’s son, Nawab Malik had waged literally a one-man campaign against NCB Mumbai Zone in-charge Sameer Wankhede, with his revelations against the way the probe was handled punching holes into the case against Aryan.
Malik subsequently was held on charges by the Enforcement Directorate and has been in jail since February 23.
On Friday, as the NCB admitted there was no case against Aryan, the NCP and its allies Congress and Shiv Sena rallied behind Malik. “It is clear today that Nawab Malik’s allegations were true. Aryan Khan was kept in custody even though no drugs were found in his possession. Now Aryan Khan’s name is not even in the NCB chargesheet. NCB official Sameer Wankhede has worked to discredit Mumbai and Maharashtra along with Bollywood,” Congress spokesperson Atul Londhe said.
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“Nawab Malik ji made serious allegations on the style of working of Sameer Wankhede, thereby drawing the ire of some powerful people in Delhi. Today he is paying the price for speaking the truth,” NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said.
Shiv Sena leader and spokesperson Sanjay Raut said, “The truth has come out. An attempt to destroy the life of a young man was done for the sake of publicity and due to political pressure. To have such an officer (Wankhede) in any department is dangerous for the government and the country.’’
Announcing that Aryan and five others were not being chargesheeted as there was no evidence against them, NCB DG S N Pradhan said: “There were shortcomings in the investigations (conducted by then Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede). There was no corroborative physical evidence to support the allegations.” Sources said the government was also contemplating action against Wankhede.
In his series of press conferences against Wankhede, Malik too had raised serious questions about due process in the NCB’s probe into the Cordelia cruise ship case on October 2, 2021, leading to the arrest of Aryan. Eventually, 19 people were arrested in connection with the raid. Aryan spent more than 20 days in jail before he got bail.
Malik’s opponents had countered that his press conferences were prompted by the NCB’s case against his son-in-law Sameer Khan, over alleged drug recovery. Sameer Khan spent nine months in jail before he was granted bail in end-September, with the court saying that there was no case for illicit drug trafficking and conspiracy against him.
Among Malik’s revelations were that the men who accompanied the NCB during the raid on Cordelia cruise ship were associated with the BJP, that its three official witnesses had been used multiple times by it, and that they also had links to Wankhede himself. The NCB had been forced to issue a clarification defending itself and the integrity of the investigation. On October 24, a witness had come forward to claim that NCB officials had made him sign 10 blank sheets of paper. Malik had also put out Wankhede’s birth certificate on Twitter to suggest that he had fudged his details to avail of the Scheduled Caste quota. Wankhede’s caste information might also be a matter of probe now.
With the Maharashtra government treading with care, the NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena had largely steered clear of Malik at the time. He was slapped with a defamation suit by the Wankhede family, and later, after allegations by former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis against him, arrested by the ED.
BJP MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar sought to argue on Friday that the NCB chargesheet was actually proof that “the Narendra Modi government and their agencies always act fairly and truth always prevails”. He added: “Those who are welcoming the clean chit by the NCB should now agree that Nawab Malik is prima facie guilty.’’
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