Aryan Khan saga, charges against Wankhede raise questions on NCB’s past cases

‘No case where Bollywood celebrities were called in for questioning taken to their logical conclusion’

The arrest and bail to Aryan Khan in a drugs case and subsequent allegations on the functioning of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), especially its zonal director Sameer Wankhede, have raised questions on the past cases of the agency.

A Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader had pointed out that none of the high-profile cases, where Bollywood celebrities were called in for questioning, have been taken to their logical conclusion. Instead all of them are either pending investigation or the trial has not yet begun yet.

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In 2020, the NCB under Mr. Wankhede stepped in to investigate the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput and arrested his girlfriend and actor Rhea Chakraborty for allegedly supplying drugs to him based on her WhatsApp chats. In the following months, 33 individuals including the actor were arrested by the NCB.

A year later, a majority of the 33 arrested including Ms. Chakraborty and her brother Showik have been granted bail while six others remain imprisoned. The NCB filed an 11,700-page chargesheet in March 2021 but the trial is yet to begin.

After the arrest of Ms. Chakraborty, top actors including Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan, Shraddha Kapoor, Arjun Rampal and Rakul Preet Singh were questioned by the NCB which claimed that it was cracking down on the drug nexus in Bollywood.

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The agency seized the mobile phones of the actors and even sent them for forensic investigation. No confirmation on whether any report has been received was made by the agency. All the actors denied consuming drugs and no arrests had been made in the case. A year later, the case is at a standstill as not even a chargesheet has been filed by the NCB.

Agisilaos Demetriades, brother of actor Arjun Rampal’s partner, was arrested in October 2020 over alleged possession of drugs. He too was granted bail in December 2020. A year later, in September 2021, he was again arrested in Goa by the NCB in relation to the case involving seizure of a small quantity of hashish and contraband.

In August 2021, actor Armaan Kohli’s house was raided by the NCB, a day after the arrest of drug peddler Ajay Raju Singh. Mr. Kohli was questioned and arrested. According to the officials, a small amount of drugs was found in his home. In October 2021, his bail plea was rejected by the special NDPS court.

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