Cruise drugs case: NCB quizzes Arbaaz Merchant, Achit Kumar; Mumbai cops grill Sunil Patil

Merchant and Kumar arrived at the NCB office in south Mumbai separately around 11:30 AM-12 noon. They were allowed to go after 9 PM.

Published: 08th November 2021 08:57 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th November 2021 08:57 AM   |  A+A-


For representational purposes (Express Illustrations)


MUMBAI: The Delhi SIT of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Sunday questioned Arbaaz Merchant and Achit Kumar in connection with the drugs on cruise case for over nine hours, an official said.

The duo was summoned by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by senior officer Sanjay Kumar Singh, which was entrusted with the investigation of six cases, including the cruise drugs case involving Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan Khan.

Merchant and Kumar arrived at the NCB office in south Mumbai separately around 11:30 AM-12 noon.

They were allowed to go after 9 PM, he said.

Aryan Khan, however, failed to appear before the SIT citing fever, another official said.

It is a routine procedure to summon the accused after a new investigation team takes charge, the official said.

Merchant and Kumar, arrested last month, are currently out on bail.

The NCB had arrested Aryan Khan and at least 19 others in the cruise drugs case last month.

The anti-drug agency's Mumbai zonal director Sameer Wankhede has been facing a departmental vigilance probe after an independent witness, in this case, alleged an extortion bid by those involved in the investigation.

Aryan Khan was released on bail on October 30.

In its order, the high court had said that Aryan Khan, Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha, his co-accused who were also released on bail, will have to surrender their passports before the NDPS court and shall not leave India without taking permission from the special court.

Besides, they have to attend the NCB office each Friday between 11 am and 2 pm to mark their presence.

Sunil Patil, whom former Mumbai BJP youth wing chief Mohit Bharatiya has accused of being the mastermind of the cruise drugs episode, appeared before the Mumbai Police's Special Investigation Team (SIT) on Sunday evening to record his statement, an official said.

Patil reached the Azad Maidan police station in a private cab and later went to the SIT office located in south Mumbai, he said.

According to the official, Patil entered the SIT office around 6:15 PM.

ACP Milind Khetle, who heads the SIT, will record Patil's statement.

The SIT was constituted by the Mumbai Police to probe allegations of extortion against Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) officials in connection with the alleged drug bust on board a cruise liner last month in which Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan Khan is an accused.

The SIT has already recorded the statement of NCB's independent witness Prabhakar Sail, the official added.

Sail had claimed that he had heard NCB witness K P Gosavi discussing a pay-off deal of Rs 25 crore after Aryan Khan was arrested by NCB in connection with the case.

Gosavi was later arrested by the Pune Police in a cheating case.

On Saturday, Bharatiya claimed that Patil, who hails from Dhule in north Maharashtra, is the mastermind of the entire cruise drugs episode.

Bharatiya had also alleged that Patil was associated with many leaders of the ruling Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), including former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh.

On Sunday, Patil denied the allegations that he was the "mastermind".

Speaking to a news channel, Patil claimed the tip-off about the cruise party was given to Manish Bhanushali, an NCB witness in the case, by Bhopal-based Neeraj Yadav, who he claimed is a BJP worker.


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