Claims BJP leader Mohit Kamboj to be NCB official Sameer Wankhede’s ‘partner in-crime’.
In a fresh salvo of allegations in the Cordelia cruise drug bust, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik on Sunday claimed that the case involving Aryan Khan, the son of Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, was one of “kidnap and ransom” while accusing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Mohit Kamboj leader of being the mastermind behind the ‘conspiracy’.
Speaking in Mumbai, Mr. Malik alleged that the “plan to trap” Mr. Aryan Khan was laid through Mr. Kamboj, a former BJP youth wing president and general secretary of the party’s Mumbai unit, while accusing the BJP leader of being Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) officer Sameer Wankhede’s “partner-in-crime” in an extortion racket.
The NCP leader further alleged that another ‘partner’ of Mr. Wankhede, Kashiff Khan, who was present at the party, had apparently been “forcing” Maharashtra Minister Aslam Shaikh (also Mumbai’s Guardian Minister) to attend the cruise party.
“Aryan Khan didn’t purchase the ticket for the [Cordelia] cruise party. He was brought there by Pratik Gaba and Amir Furniturewala. The trap was laid through Mohit Kamboj. Aryan was ‘kidnapped’ and ransomed and after the initial demand of ₹25 crores, the deal was settled at ₹18 crores,” claimed Mr. Malik, who is the State’s Minority Development Minister.
Mr. Malik alluded to his press conference that he held immediately after the October 2 drug bust where he had alleged that the NCB had let off three individuals — Rishabh Sachdeva, Mr. Pratik Gaba and Mr. Amir Furniturewala — after having allegedly detained them from the Mumbai cruise party.
The NCP leader said that Mr. Sachdeva was Mr. Kamboj’s brother-in-law adding that the “entire [cruise drug bust] story hinged upon the letting off of these three people, including Rishabh Sachdeva”.
Stating that Mr. Wankhede and Mr. Kamboj had “good relations”, Mr. Malik said that the latter owned 12 hotels in the city and was believed to have shut down businesses of his competitors by lodging false cases against them.
However, the NCP leader said that one selfie had “spoilt the extortion play”, alluding to the picture taken by shadowy self-styled private investigator Kiran Gosavi of himself with Mr. Aryan Khan. Gosavi was recently arrested by the Pune police in a 2018 cheating case and has a number of fraud plaints against him in Pune, Mumbai and Thane.
Mr. Malik further alleged that Mr. Kamboj had been accused in a bank fraud of ₹1,100 crore and that the CBI had even raided his home a year-and-a-half ago, after which the matter was apparently hushed up.
The NCP leader further said Mr. Kamboj and Mr. Wankhede had reportedly met outside Oshiwara graveyard on October 7, a few days after Mr. Aryan Khan’s arrest in the October 2 ‘drug bust’ case.
“After this, Wankhede panicked and complained to the police that they were being chased. They were lucky that the nearby CCTV was not working and we couldn’t get the feed,” said Mr. Malik.
He also categorically refuted Mr. Kamboj’s charges that one Sunil Patil from Dhule, (who as per Mr. Kamboj) was closely associated with NCP leaders, including former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, was the ‘mastermind’ of the cruise drug bust episode.
According to Mr. Malik, Mr. Wankhede ran ‘a private army’ which included Mr. Patil and two local ‘journalists’ Rajkumar Bajaj and advocate Pradeep Nambiar, who were active participants in this extortion business.
The NCP Minister said that Vijay Pagare, the Mumbai-based businessman who earlier made the sensational claim that the October 2 cruise raid had been “pre-planned”, had told him that Mr. Wankhede’s ‘private army’ used to gather in a posh Mumbai hotel which they had booked for a period of seven months and where drugs allegedly used to be consumed amid “much other revelry”.
“Sunil Patil is not an NCP worker nor have I met him any time in my life…his photos are circulating with [Union Home Minister] Amit Shah along with other BJP leaders. Likewise, Manish Bhanushali [another controversial NCB witness alleged to be a BJP worker] has had his pictures taken with top-ranking BJP brass — from Prime Minister Modi to others…I am not accusing any political party but I do contend that this Patil is a fraud and also part of Wankhede’s ‘private army’ ” said Mr. Malik.
Clarifying that his fight with neither against the NCB nor the BJP nor a tussle between the Centre and the Maharashtra governments, but merely against disreputable elements, Mr. Malik urged the BJP to stop shielding ‘dubious’ characters like Mr. Kamboj, Mr. Bhanushali and Mr. Patil while exhorting the NCP to weed out their department of ‘rotten apples’.
“I am not scared of bogus cases against me or my family… This fight is against extortion and I urge the NCB to weed out their ‘rotten fish’ who include NCB officers Sameer Wankhede, [NCB superintendent] V.V. Singh, Ashish Ranjan Prasad [investigating officer in the cruise drug bust] and Wankhede’s driver by the name of Mane. They are ruining the NCB’s reputation,” said Mr. Malik, stressing that there was “no mid-sea drug bust operation” as claimed by the NCB and that the entire episode was one of “sordid extortion”.