Mumbai/Pune: Launching a scathing attack on Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede, Maharashtra minister and NCP leader Nawab Malik on Thursday dubbed the officer as “bogus” and asserted that once “proof” against him is out, he can not remain in government service for even one day. Earlier in the day, Malik had claimed the officer was specifically brought to the agency by the Centre post the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput after which it started “playing games with the film industry”, and sought to know the motive behind his visits to the Maldives and Dubai.
Continuing his tirade against Wankhede, who supervised a raid on a cruise liner off the Mumbai coast earlier this month that led to the alleged recovery of drugs and arrest of superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan, Malik claimed the IRS officer will lose his job in one year and eventually land in jail. Wankhede refuted allegations made by Malik.
The NCP spokesperson, speaking at an event in Maval tehsil of Pune district, said, “We have all the proof about how bogus he (Wankhede) is. His father was bogus, he himself is bogus and his family members are bogus. After proving his bogusness, he can not remain in service for one day and he’s going to jail is confirmed and we will bring out all the proof.”
Malik said his son-in-law was put in jail in a drugs case.
“He (the NCB officer) was sending me a message that he had not done anything. Now tell us who did it. He says he had pressure from up. Give us answer – who is your father who is pressuring you?” the minister asked.
“I challenge Wankhede that in one-year time, he will lose his job. You had come to put us in jail…but people will see your trip to jail,” said Malik.
The Maharashtra minister, whose party is a key constituent in the Shiv Sena-led MVA government, said he was not scared of anyone. “I am not scared of anyone and I will not sit silent till I send you (Wankhede) to jail,” he said.
Malik claimed central agencies like the ED, CBI, I-T department and NCB are being used to try and destabilise the MVA government in the state. “But no leader from the government is scared. Even if 50 per cent ministry goes to jail, we are not scared,” he said, adding the MVA government is not scared of such “hollow” threats.
Malik also alleged the officer was specifically brought to the NCB by the Centre post the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput after which it started “playing games with the film industry”, and sought to know the motive behind his visits to the Maldives and Dubai.
Wankhede refuted the slew of allegations made so far against him by Malik and said he has never been to Dubai though he has visited the Maldives along with his family after taking permission from the central government.
Malik also alleged that Rajput’s girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty was implicated in a “fake case” by the NCB.
Malik has repeatedly claimed the case related to the alleged recovery of banned drugs from the ship was “fake” and arrests were made just on the basis of WhatsApp chats.
The NCP leader’s son-in-law Sameer Khan was also arrested by the NCB in a drugs case in January this year and he was granted bail last month.
“After Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide (in June 2020), a special officer was brought in to the NCB. The suicide case was handed over the CBI, but the mystery over his suicide or murder remains unresolved. But, after that, the NCB started playing games with the film industry,” Malik claimed.
He said dozens of actors were “paraded “before the NCB merely on the basis of WhatsApp chats. “Attempts were made to implicate certain people in false cases. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire film industry was in the Maldives. What was the officer and his family doing in the Maldives and Dubai? This has to be clarified by Sameer Wankhede,” the NCP spokesperson said. “We demand that he clarify whether he was in Dubai,” Malik said.
“Was his family there in the Maldives when the entire film industry was in the Maldives? What was the reason behind them going there?” he asked.
“We are very clear. All this ‘vasuli’ (extortion) took place in Maldives and Dubai and I will release those photos,” Malik said.
The IRS officer, speaking to the media in Mumbai, condemned the relentless verbal attack on him and rejected the allegations made by Malik. “The allegations of my visit to Dubai are totally false. This is false information. I was in Mumbai on the date the minister has mentioned in his allegations and he can fully investigate it,” he said.
The photo which Malik has tweeted (to claim he was in Dubai) is from Mumbai and not Dubai, Wankhede said.
He said the NCP leader can use established mechanisms to check his location on the given date, go through data from the Mumbai airport and gather other relevant information.
Wankhede, however, said he did visit the Maldives. “I went to the Maldives with my family after taking permission from the government,” he said, adding if Malik is linking the visit to “extortion” then it is not appropriate.
Asked whether he met any celebrity in the Maldives, Wankhede replied in the negative. “I did not meet anybody there. It was with all due permissions…everything was legal…have not done anything wrong.”
Queried about Malik’s remarks that Wankhede will not be in government service for long and land in jail, the IRS officer quipped that his wishes are with the minister.
“He is a big minister and I am a small government servant…, if he wants to send me to jail for service to the nation, honest work and anti-drugs action then I am welcoming it,” said Wankhede.
“There has been continuous personal attack since the last 15 days against my dead mother, my retired father and my sister and I am condemning the attack,” he said.
Asked about the allegation that he was brought to the NCB to target Bollywood and “defame” Maharashtra, Wankhede said he applied to join the central agency in 2019 when “the (drugs) case (related to film industry) was not with us”.
Responding to the allegations over foreign visits, NCB Deputy Director (South Region) Ashok Mutha Jain issued a press note in which he said Wankhede joined the agency on “loan basis” on August 31, 2020, and after this he has not submitted any application for ex-India leave to Dubai.
“As per the approval of Competent Authority vide NCB Order on July 27, 2021, the officer has availed ex-lndia leave along with his family to Maldives,” the note said.