Mumbai, March 2 (IANS) The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Wednesday dismissed as ‘speculation’ some reports suggesting that the agency has cleared Aryan Khan, son of Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan, who was nabbed in a drugs case in October, though few found it credible.
Soon after certain reports surfaced, NCB Deputy Director-General Sanjay Singh and the Special Investigation Team (SIT) issued a statement claiming that “the media reports are not true and they are just speculalions”, since “the investigation is not yet complete”.
Singh added that “these reports were not cross-checked with the NCB, and it would be premature to say anything at this stage”.
However, few in Maharashtra believed the agency’s contentions, as state political leaders whacked the NCB, reiterating how “central probe agencies” are being “grossly misused” by the BJP against the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
The ruling MVA allies — Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress — said now it is clear that though there was no evidence against Aryan Khan, he was deliberately “framed” by the former NCB Mumbai Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede.
The media reports claimed that the NCB-SIT ostensibly found no evidence to link Aryan Khan with the larger drugs conspiracy or an international drugs syndicate, besides pointing at the glaring lapses in the high-profile raids on the luxury ship Cordelia Cruise on October 2, 2021 in full media glare.
Shiv Sena MP and chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut said this was “another case of abuse of the central agencies”, and demanded to know who was behind it.
“Those who are misusing the central probe agencies will go to jail. The NCB-SIT report has come and its proved that Aryan Khan was framed because he’s Shah Rukh Khan’s son. The truth has finally emerged, hasn’t it,” Raut asked.
Referring to the case, NCP state President and minister Jayant Patil pointed out that a senior MVA minister, Nawab Malik, has been targeted with false charges because he had exposed the NCB last year.
Congress state General Secretary Sachin Sawan said that the SIT has revealed how Aryan Khan didn’t have drugs with him and has exposed the mistakes committed by Wankhede’s team during the (ship) raids.
Sawant said it’s clear now that the allegations of an extortion racket were true, and demanded why no action has been taken against NCB officials for visible violation of the NCB’s rulebook.
“Since October last year, I have been saying the NCB’s claims that the action was taken as per the procedures when these were seriously violated while nabbing the so-called accused in the ship raid. Now it seems the NCB wants to shove the matter under the carpet,” Sawant said.
Sena farmer-face and MoS Kishore Tiwari said he smelt “something fishy” in the entire episode from the beginning and had demanded in October last year that the Supreme Court should appoint a sitting judge to probe the fundamental rights violation of Aryan Khan by the NCB.
“The BJP is on a vendetta spree with the help of central probe agencies. Nawab Malik’s exposure has proved to be correct… Even if the NCB denies its SIT report, who will believe it now,” asked Tiwari.
NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said the NCB-SIT report has confirmed Nawab Malik’s campaign for the past five months that the “whole Cordelia Cruise ship raid was a big ‘farjiwada’ (hoax)” with the direct involvement of BJP activists working in tandem with Wankhede.
“The SIT report has also exposed the NCB’s style of functioning, the gross mistakes during the raids, why they were not videographed and help of BJP persons taken to trap innocent youngsters,” Tapase said.
Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi said Maharashtra had exposed how CBI was misused by the Centre during the Sushant Singh Rajput case whose final closure report is still awaited.
“Now, NCB is forced to admit wrongdoing on the part of its officials in the drugs case. Next will be exposing ED officials misusing their authority to please the Centre,” said Chaturvedi, dropping broad hints.
Pune-based RTI activist Prafful Sarda said that akin to the Sushant Singh Rajput case probe delayed by the CBI, “the NCB is also dragging the Aryan Khan matter to please the BJP and help it politically”.
“After the report has been leaked, the NCB must be under pressure from its BJP ‘masters’. I am filing an RTI plea seeking the SIT report in public interest and not for the vested interests of some politicians or officials,” Sarda said.
It may be recalled that former Attorney-General of India, Mukul Rohatgi, had labelled the NCB as “an Ostrich with its head buried in the sand” while the rich kid Aryan Khan was “paying the price for being a celeb”.
The sensational raids on Cordelia Cruise led to a total of 20 persons being arrested, including many from the glamour world like Aryan Khan. Later all were released on bail.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)