Arrest of Shah Rukh Khan's Son Shows 'Rules Are Same For All', Indian Narcotics Bureau Boss Says
18:15 GMT 04.10.2021 (Updated: 10:39 GMT 19.07.2022)
Since the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput last year, India's Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has been investigating a possible Bollywood drug syndicate. Many A-listers, including Deepika Padukone, Arjun Rampal, Shraddha Kapoor, and Sara Ali Khan have been questioned as part of the drug inquiry connected with Sushant's death.
Bollywood's biggest drug scandal has just turned murkier after Aryan Khan - the 23-year-old son of superstar Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) - was arrested for alleged possession and consumption of drugs seized by India's Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Sunday.
Although several Bollywood celebrities - including Suniel Shetty and Pooja Bhatt - have come out to express their support for Khan, NCB chief Sameer Wankhede has made it perfectly clear that no one is above the law, whether celebrity or common man.
Wankhede is known to have bust several high-profile drug rackets recently.
"We're just doing our job. We're enforcing rules and those rules are the same for everyone. They are equal for everybody, so why should we let celebrities, who don’t follow those rules walk away scot-free? Just because they are famous? Does that give them the right to violate the law? If we see a famous person breaking the law, shouldn’t we do something about it? Should I only run after the drug peddlers and conduct my operations and raids in slums alone? It can’t be like that," Wankhede said in an interview with Times of India.
Wankhede said that only a small proportion of the people they seize are actually celebrities.
Drugs including cocaine, marijuana, mephedrone and ecstasy were confiscated during the raid at Goa-bound Cordelia Cruises on Sunday.
To nab the drug traffickers involved in this case, the anti-narcotics inspectors conducted a series of raids on Monday across Mumbai in Maharashtra state, and took a supplier into custody.
Wankhede said that he has often been wrongly blamed for targeting celebrities involved in drugs.
He pointed out that since Khan's arrest is a high-profile case, it is getting a lot of media attention.
However, he added that they carry out raids in Mumbai almost every day, seizing drugs worth millions of dollars. But these successes never get mentioned because they don't involve a celebrity.
“This year we’ve made more than 310 arrests. How many of those are celebrities? We’ve seized illegal substances worth INR1.5 billion (over $20 million) this year. Has anyone spoken about that?" he said.
"Today, the media is playing up Aryan Khan's story. Just two days ago we seized INR50 million of drugs and none of the country's media wrote about it. Last week, we seized INR60 million of drugs connected to the underworld. Again, nobody chose to comment on these cases," Wankhede added.
Last month, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) seized 2,988kg of heroin at Mundra Port in Gujarat state, which is said to be one of the largest ever seizures in the world.
After getting a tip-off about the cruise party, the NCB raided the place late Saturday night and concluded the operation on Sunday. Khan was among seven others who were detained for allegedly possessing drugs such as cocaine, mephedrone and ecstasy. Khan and several others were taken to the hospital for a medical check-up.
Although Khan's lawyer, Satish Maneshinde, argued during the court hearing on Sunday that Khan had simply been invited to the event by the organisers, the NCB chief said there is evidence to prove the contrary.
"No incriminating material has been recovered from [Aryan Khan]. There is no possession or evidence of consumption," Maneshinde said.