MUMBAI: After targeting Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB)’s zonal director Sameer Wankhede, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) seems to be training its gun on Gyaneshwar Singh, the vigilance official leading the probe on graft charges against the NCB officer.
NCP spokesperson Sanjay Tatkare said Singh had earlier shielded Wankhede.
“Vigilance chief Gyaneshwar Singh at that time not only defended NCB’s functioning but also protected Sameer Wankhede. So, can we expect the fair probe or just a farce probe against Wankhede,” Tatkare said.
The NCB has formed a five-member team, led by Gyaneshwar Singh, to probe the charges against Wankhede.
On Tuesday, NCP minister Nawab Malik said Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the “malafide actions” against Bollywood celebrities by various central agencies.
Malik said the letter will emphasise how such actions will adversely impact the economy as Bollywood contributes 2-3% to the country’s GDP.
In another development, the Bombay High Court adjourned the bail hearing of Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan, the prime accused in the cruise ship drug haul case, to Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Wankhede’s wife Kranti Redkar on Tuesday claimed they’re getting threat calls and online abuse.
Team probing allegations in Mumbai today
Earlier on Tuesday, NCP minister Nawab Malik met Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray and home minister Dilip Walse Patil demanding a SIT probe on NCB’s ‘extortion racket’.
During the meeting, Thackeray raised concerns over NCB’s mala fide raids on Bollywood personalities on flimsy charges, Malik said, adding that the CM pointed out that the film industry is a major source of jobs for thousands of people.
The NCB team probing graft charges against zonal director Sameer Wankhede will reach Mumbai on Wednesday.
Sources said the five-member team is likely to look into all allegations against Wankhede — extortion, planting of drugs and framing the rich including Bollywood celebrities and politicians.
Malik also submitted a list of 26 allegations against Wankhede, which included serious charges such as planting of drugs in the houses of celebrities in order to frame them and extort money later.
He claimed that he got the list from an NCB officer who did not wish to be named. The NCP leader demanded that the charges are serious in nature and, hence, be included in the probe against Wankhede.
Reacting to the letter, NCB’s deputy director-general Ashok Mutha Jain said the agency will take cognizance of it. Malik further alleged that Wankhede was illegally intercepting the phones of people.
Mumbai police steps in
The Mumbai Police on Tuesday said they have received four applications so far alleging extortion by Narcotics Control Bureau's (NCB) Mumbai zonal director Sameer Wankhede and other officials, and have launched an enquiry to verify these claims.
One of the applications was sent by NCB independent witness Prabhakar Sail who had alleged that he had overheard K P Gosavi, another witness in the cruise ship raid case, talking to one Sam D'Souza over the phone about a demand of Rs 25 crore including Rs 8 crore for Sameer Wankhede.
Earlier this month, a team led by Sameer Wankhede had raided a cruise ship off the coast of Mumbai and claimed to have recovered drugs.
The team arrested Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan Khan in the case along with others.
Sail has sent the application against NCB officers to the Mumbai Police.
"We have clubbed all the four applications filed against NCB officers including zonal director Sameer Wankhede. We have launched an enquiry to verify the claims," a senior officer said.
He said all these applications have been marked to Mata Ramabai Ambedkar Marg police station and an officer of the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police has launched the enquiry.
However, police refused to disclose the identity and contents of the applications filed against NCB officers.
Police will also verify claims made by Prabhakar Sail, another official said.
Police teams are verifying locations of mobile phone numbers as well as CCTV footages of various places mentioned in Sail's application, he said.
Appropriate action will be taken after enquiry, he said.
Meanwhile, Mumbai Police have also received two applications against cabinet minister and NCP leader Nawab Malik, the official said without elaborating.
Malik has raised a string of allegations against Sameer Wankhede, an IRS officer, and also accused him of forging his documents to secure job.
NCB Deputy Director General Mutha Ashok Jain on Tuesday said they will take necessary action into the matter.
Malik earlier in the day said he is forwarding a letter written by 'someone in NCB about the various illegal activities of (Sameer) Wankhede' to the agency's DG S N Pradhan.
The NCP leader also said the NCB should investigate the 26 allegations in the letter claiming an 'extortion racket' being run within the anti-drugs agency.
When asked about the letter, Jain told reporters outside the NCB office here that he has "received a paper on WhatsApp" and they will take "necessary action".
Asked about the NCB opposing in the Bombay High Court the bail plea of actor Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan Khan, arrested earlier this month after the agency raided a cruise ship and claimed to have seized drugs onboard, Jain said he will not speak anything about the case.
To a query on a team of the NCB coming to Mumbai from Delhi to conduct a probe into Nawab Malik's allegations, Jain said he also got the information about the agency's team coming here.
The NCB has ordered a vigilance inquiry into the claims made by a witness in the cruise drugs case of an extortion bid of Rs 25 crore by some agency officials, including its Mumbai zonal director Sameer Wankhede, and others for letting off Aryan Khan.
(With PTI Inputs)