New Delhi/ Mumbai, Nov 5 : In a significant development, the Narcotics Control Bureau’s controversial Mumbai Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede was on Friday shifted out from the investigations into the sensational cruise ship party raid of October 2 in which Aryan Khan, son of Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan, was arrested.
The NCB directorate on late Friday issued a statement saying that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) comprising officers from Operations Branch of the NCB Headquarters has been constituted by the Director General, NCB to take over a total of six cases from NCB Mumbai Zonal Unit which have national and international ramifications, in order to conduct deeper investigation to find out forward and backward linkages.
Questioned by media in Mumbai, Wankhede denied that he has been removed from the case.
“I have not been removed from the investigation. It was my writ petition in the court that the matter be probed by a central agency. So, the Aryan Khan case and Sameer Khan case are being probed by Delhi Special Investigation Team. It is coordination between NCB teams of Delhi and Mumbai.”
The NCB statement also said that no officer or officers have been removed from their present roles and they will continue to assist the Operations Branch investigation as required until any specific orders are issued to the contrary. It is reiterated that the NCB functions across India as a single integrated agency.
Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik said that Wankhede has been removed from a total of five cases, including the Cordelia Cruise case.
“This is just the beginning. A lot more has to be done to clean this system and we will do it,” he asserted, adding that there are a total 26 cases that need to be probed.
Wankhede has been under a cloud for a variety of reasons including allegations of corruption, fake caste certificate, a lavish lifestyle, and targeting high-profile individuals, especially from Bollywood and glamour industry with comparatively insignificant drug seizures, etc.
Malik and Wankhede have been engaged in an unprecedented war of words for the past one month, with the NCP leader making a series of shocking exposes on the NCB Mumbai head, besides an affidavit by a witness accusing him of extortion, allegations of Bharatiya Janata Party politicians and wanted criminals being roped in during the ship raid, etc.
The embattled Wankhede has been running from pillar to post to politicians to statutory panels to the courts seeking protection from action against him, and has been recently given relief in the form of three working days’ notice in case of arrest by the police.
On the raid on an alleged rave party aboard the Cordelia Cruise ship, Wankhede had made a big catch of Aryan Khan and seven others, and later another 12 were arrested in the case which has hogged national attention for a month.