‘Open for Inquiry’: Sameer Wankhede faces heat as NCB orders vigilance inquiry into ‘extortion’ affidavit

The inquiry will be conducted by Gyaneshwar Singh, the NCB deputy director general (DDG) of northern region.

File image of Sameer Wankhede. PTI

Sameer Wankhede, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) officer, behind the high profile Mumbai cruise drug bust is back in news again. This time the officer is under the media glare after his own organisation has launched an enquiry into the corruption allegations made by an ‘independent witness’ in the case came forward with some damning allegations regarding the way the case investigation was handled.

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 accused Aryan Khan, son of actor Shah Rukh Khan.

The inquiry will be conducted by Gyaneshwar Singh, the NCB deputy director general (DDG) of northern region based at its headquarters here. Singh is also the chief vigilance officer (CVO) of the federal anti-narcotics agency.

Prabhakar Sail, a witness in the cruise drugs case, had on Sunday claimed in an affidavit and in subsequent interactions with reporters in Mumbai that Rs 25 crore was demanded by an NCB official and other persons to let off Aryan Khan from this case.

Sail said he was the bodyguard of another witness in this case, KP Gosavi, who is absconding after the NCB raids that were conducted on October 3 at the cruise terminal on Mumbai’s coast leading to arrest of as many as 20 people, including Khan.

Sail also claimed that he saw Gosavi meeting Shah Rukh Khan’s manager and that he was asked to sign “9-10 blank pages” in the presence of Wankhede after the cruise raids.

“We have received the affidavit and a report from our DDG (northwest) based in Mumbai and the NCB director general has taken cognisance of this report. He has marked it to the vigilance section for inquiry.

“We are a professional organisation and we are open for inquiry against any allegation against our staffers. The inquiry will be transparent and fair,” Gyaneshwar Singh told PTI.

Asked if Wankhede will continue to probe the cruise case till this inquiry goes on, Singh said the question was “premature and we will take a call as the inquiry progresses and evidences are gathered.”

Officials said the NCB inquiry will look at all aspects of the claims made by Sail and will also record the version of Wankhede and other officers of the Mumbai zonal unit involved in this drugs bust case.

The inquiry team may also question Sail, they said.

Wankhede, an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) of 2008 batch Customs cadre, is expected to join the inquiry at the NCB headquarters here in the next few days. He has denied the charges made in the affidavit by Sail.

The officer on Sunday also wrote to Mumbai Police commissioner Hemant Nagrale, seeking protection from likely legal action “being planned” against him by unknown persons to falsely frame him concerning an alleged vigilance related issue.

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