Mumbai NCB raid: BJP worker, private detective's involvement sparks controversy
The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) is facing political heat after a BJP worker and a private detective were found involved in the recent drug bust on a cruise ship in which Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan Khan was arrested. The NCB has, so far, arrested 16 people after seizing drugs from the Goa-bound ship on Saturday night. Here are more details.
2 men spotted in photos not NCB officials; controversy erupts
The two men involved in the raid, who are at the center of the controversy, are BJP worker Manish Bhanushali and self-styled private detective KP Gosavi. Bhanushali had earlier been photographed with many top BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Separately, Gosavi—who claims to be a Malaysia-based detective—is facing a forgery case in Pune, The Indian Express reported.
Visuals show duo leading accused into NCB office
Visuals from the raid showed BJP worker Bhanushali holding the hand of accused Arbaaz Merchant while leading him into the NCB office. Separately, Gosavi was seen taking Aryan to the bureau's office. Gosavi had also posted a selfie with Aryan on social media.
Political parties question BJP worker's involvement; demands high-level inquiry
Both Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party—constituents of the ruling alliance in Maharashtra—questioned the involvement of the BJP worker and the "so-called" private detective in the raid. The NCP asked why the duo was allowed to act as law enforcement officials despite being civilians. Separately, Congress demanded a "high-level inquiry" by the state government into the "collusion between NCB and BJP" in the case.
Whole raid a scam: NCP's Nawab Malik
Addressing a press conference, NCP spokesperson and Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik lashed out at the NCB and the BJP over the involvement of the two civilians in the raid. "The NCB is being used by the BJP to defame people. It is being used to conduct raids against people who are against the party, and this entire episode is a scam," Malik said.
Bhanushali said he acting as a witness
Speaking to TIE, Bhanushali accepted that he is a member of the BJP and was acting on the raid as a witness. "I had received information regarding the drugs party on the cruise ship from a friend through WhatsApp on October 1," he said. Talking about his presence during the raid, Bhanushali said he was accompanying the officials as he was "getting constant updates."
'I was holding accused's hand as footpath was narrow'
When TIE asked Bhanushali why he was taking one accused into the NCB office, he said he was in the same vehicle with the accused on their way to the bureau. "The footpath was narrow...I instinctively caught the hand of the person next to me."
NCB dismisses allegations as 'baseless'
NCB Deputy DG Gyaneshwar Singh dismissed the allegations as "baseless," saying the two persons were among the "10 independent witnesses" in the case. NCB officials said they "didn't know of any of these persons personally before the incident." "We cannot stop an operation and check if the independent witness has a past record or if he is affiliated to any party," another official said.
Did everything as per law: NCB
Singh said, "If they want to go to court, they can go and seek justice. We will reply there. We have done everything as per law." Referring to a narcotics case registered against Malik's son-in-law, Singh said NCP's allegations were "made with malice" and "prejudiced."
BJP questions NCP's motive
Reacting to NCP leader Malik's allegations, Maharashtra BJP chief spokesperson Keshav Upadhye asked NCP to clear their motive behind the allegations. "The question here is whether he (Malik) wants to support the fight against drugs or oppose it." "We need to support...NCB's fight against drugs...I want to ask the NCP whether they just want to support Aryan Khan or is there any other motive?"