October 30, 2021
Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan was on Saturday released from Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail, where he was being held in a drugs-related case initiated by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB). The federal agency has now come under fresh fire over how it is dealing with drug-peddling charges, a number of cases related to which were probed by it over one year. A recent media report claimed that not only has the NCB initiated as many as five drugs-related cases in a year, but only one witness – Adil Fazal Usmani – has been produced by the probe agency as ‘panch witness’ while investigating all of them.
The Indian Express reported that the NCB has been using Usmani, who was among the 10 panch witnesses cited by the agency in the cruise ship raid involving Aryan Khan, in at least five drugs-related cases since 2020. The newspaper reported, citing records seen by it, that Usmani, a resident of the Jogeshwari area in Mumbai, was cited by the NCB as a panch witness in these five cases – two of them in 2020 and three in 2021.
Apart from Usmani, two other panch witnesses cited by the NCB reportedly include Kiran Gosavi and Manish Bahubali. The Hindustan Times reported earlier this week that Gosavi was arrested in Pune in connection with a 2018 cheating case.
Prabhakar Sail, a bodyguard of NCB witness Kiran Gosavi, earlier alleged that Gosavi took ₹50 lakh from an individual after the raid at the cruise ship. Gosavi however, has denied the allegations. Notably, Sail, too, has been listed as one of the 10 panch witnesses in the Mumbai cruise case. The other six, apart from Usmani, Gosavi, Bahubali, and Sail are – Aparna Rane, Prakash Bahadur, Shoaib Faiz, Aubrey Gomez, Muzammil Ibrahim, and V Waigankar. A few of these people, reported the Indian Express, are security staff in the Cordelia cruise luxury liner from which Aryan Khan and others were held during the drugs bust on October 2.
A controversy erupted after Prabhakar Sail, one of the witnesses cited by the NCB for the raid, filed an affidavit sworn before a notary on October 23 alleging that he overheard his former employer Kiran Gosavi, also a witness in the Aryan Khan-cruise drug case, talking to a person about settling the matter for ₹18 crore and that amount of ₹8 crore would be required to be paid to NCB official Sameer Wankhede.
Aryan Khan, his friend Arbaaz Merchant and model Munmun Dhamecha were arrested by a team led by Sameer Wankhede on October 3 after a raid on a cruise ship have all been in custody for 23 days.