Mumbai drugs case: NCB used same witness in 5 cases

Drugs-on-cruise case: NCB used same witness in 5 cases, says report

Two other witnesses — Gosavi and Bhanushali — are in the eye of a political storm following allegations of extortion

 Supporters of NCB Mumbai Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede protesting outside the NCB office in New Delhi. Credit: PTI Photo

Out of the 10 independent witnesses (panchas) — Prabhakar Sail, Kiran Gosavi, Manish Bhanushali, Aubrey Gomez, Adil Usmani, V Waigankar, Aparna Rane, Prakash Bahadur, Shoib Faiz and Muzammil Ibrahim — in the drugs-on-cruise-ship case, Usmani has been used by NCB officials in at least five cases since 2020, The Indian Express reported quoting sources.

Even as some officials earlier claimed that none of the independent witnesses were known to the NCB before October 2, sources quoted by the publication said that "they have to fall back on known panchs as it is practically difficult to get persons willing to come on board during drug raids, out of fear and to avoid legal entanglements."

DH couldn't independently verify the report.

Two other witnesses — Gosavi, who was apparently present when the NCB arrested Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan during the cruise ship raid on October 2, and Bhanushali, accused of having links with the ruling-BJP — are in the eye of a political storm following allegations of extortion. There are also reports of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) taking over the case from the NCB.

Also read: It feels like heaven: Shah Rukh Khan fans cheer as Aryan returns home

Recently, another witness in the drugs case, Prabhakar Sail, had claimed that he had overheard Gosavi telling one Sam D'Souza over the phone — after Aryan was taken to the NCB office — about a demand of Rs 25 crore, and "to settle at Rs 18 crore as they have to give Rs 8 crore to Sameer Wankhede", the zonal director of the NCB who supervised the raid on the cruise ship.

Usmani was cited by the NCB as a panch witness in five other cases since 2020 — 36/2020 (seizure of commercial quantity of LSD); 38/2020 (seizure of non-commercial quantity of mephedrone or MD, and commercial quantity of LSD); 27/2021 (seizure of commercial quantity of MD); 35/2021 (seizure of commercial quantity of LSD and ganja); and 38/2021 (seizure of LSD and ganja) — the report stated. In all the cases, the panchnama has the same address for Usmani.

Earlier on Saturday, Aryan Khan walked out of the Arthur Road jail in central Mumbai, where he was lodged for the last 22 days following his arrest in the case.

(With PTI inputs)

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