Rajat Sharma

How Shahrukh’s son Aryan has been caught in political crossfire

akbAs the marathon hearing on Aryan Khan’s bail petition in Bombay High Court entered its third day today, one thing has become clear: it is no more a question of whether he gets bail or not, or, whether he should get bail or not. It is a legal question and the court will decide on the basis of evidences and arguments. The cold fact is that Aryan is spending time in jail only because he is superstar Shahrukh Khan’s son.

Questions are being raised whether in Aryan’s name, old scores are being settled. Maharashtra’s political leaders and officers of union government are now at opposite ends of the spectrum . BJP and NCP, too, are at loggerheads, and, in the meanwhile, Aryan and his friends are bearing the brunt of crossfire. These questions are relevant and need answers.

Narcotics Control Bureau zonal director Sameer Wankhede was probing the drugs case, but now, a team of top NCB officials from Delhi are now probing charges levelled against Wankhede. Aryan’s lawyers are telling the court that no drugs were seized from him during the raid, and three year old WhatsApp chats are being produced as evidence. At the other end, Sameer Wankhede is trying to prove his innocence before his seniors, because several charges relating to his professional and personal conduct have been raised. Aryan’s lawyer former Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi urged the high court to go through the NCB arrest memo. He was trying to prove that at the time of his arrest, no charge of international drug mafia conspiracy was levelled against him. These charges were added later, he told the court.

Aryan and his two friends, Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha were arrested on October 3. They have already spent 25 days in custody. This flies in the face of Supreme Court’s famous ruling that ‘bail should be the rule and arrest should be an exception’. Lawyer Amit Desai told the high court in so many words and said, it now appears as if arrest has become the rule, and bail has become an exception. NCB has admitted that no drug was found from Aryan’s possession. Then the question arises, what was Aryan’s crime? There are no evidences to substantiate NCB’s arguments that Aryan was part of an international drug syndicate.

Three year old WhatsApp chats are being shown, and these chats need to be verified. NCB’s argument is that Aryan belongs to a powerful family and he may tamper with evidence and put pressure on witnesses. Who are the witnesses? One had absconded and was arrested this morning and the other has alleged that some NCB officials probing the case asked for bribe.

Prabhakar Sail, eyewitness number 1 in Aryan’s case, has alleged on video and affidavit, that a Rs 25 crore deal with Shahrukh Khan was being planned, but since officials did not get the money, Aryan was jailed. Kiran Gosavi, who Prabhakar Sail alleges was the middleman, was seen sitting in all the videos, but went underground. He was arrested by Pune police this morning. Prabhakar’s allegation is that Rs 25 crore was struck, but later the deal was settled for Rs 18 crore, out of which Rs 8 crore was to be given to NCB director Sameer Wankhede. Prabhakar says, Shahrukh’s personal manager stopped taking phone calls and the deal was called off.

While NCB is probing Prabhakar’s allegations, Maharashtra minister and senior NCP leader Nawab Malik continues to fire fresh salvos daily against Wankhede, alleging that he and his parents were Muslims, and he changed his name to get a false caste certificate, in order to avail reservation for passing UPSC exam.

Nawab Malik has produced his original birth certificate showing his name as Sameer Dawood Wankhede, his ‘nikahnama’ (marriage certificate) and also produced the ‘kaazi’ who carried out the Muslim marriage rites with his first wife. Nawab Malik claims that he has so many evidences that Sameer Wankhede is bound to lose his job within the next six months.

India TV reporter met Sameer’s father Gyandev Wankhede, who admitted that the nikahnama was original, but he could not explain why the name Sameer Dawood Wankhede was written on it. India TV reporter met the kaazi, who admitted that both the groom and bride were Muslims, Sameer’s father’s name is Dawood and the family was Muslim. He said, had the groom’s family been Hindu, he would not have allowed the Islamic marriage.

The NCB, by launching a probe into Nawab Malik’s allegations against Sameer Wankhede, has done the right thing. The allegations are serious. Malik is suggesting that Sameer became a Muslim for marriage, but became a Dalit for getting a caste certificate to apply for government job.

Nawab Malik has gone to the extent of producing a letter from an unknown complainant who has alleged that Sameer Wankhede had been extorting money from people by planting drugs in the houses that are raided. The persons whom Sameer Wankhede has made witnesses, have connections with the BJP.

Now that the matter has turned political, it is being projected as a state versus Centre issue. Aryan and his friends have been caught in the political crossfire. Nawab Malik is out to avenge the arrest of his son-in-law in a drug case by Sameer Wankhede. On the other hand, state BJP leaders are trying to protect Wankhede, only because he has become the target of an NCP leader.

This is the third instance in the last one year when a matter that requires to be probed by investigation agencies are being probed by political parties. While one officer takes protection from the state government, another officer is trying to take support from the Centre.

My personal view is that, once politics enters the domain of civil and criminal cases, everybody has to bear the consequences. The image of investigation agencies takes a beating, while fingers are pointed even against the judiciary. The end result: it takes a long time for dispensing justice.

This is what happened to Shahrukh’s son Aryan. That is why his lawyer is saying ad nauseum in courts that he has nothing to do with political comments, nor has he anything to do with charges that are being levelled at NCB director Wankhede. Aryan has been caught between the crossfire. Aryan’s lawyers say that he would have got bail by now, had the case been heard purely on merit and not got entangled in political skirmishes.

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