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Sameer Wankhede’s Tenure With Mumbai NCB Ends, Sent Back to DRI

Wankhede has been in the limelight following the arrest of Aryan Khan, the son of Shah Rukh Khan following a raid.

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New Delhi: The tenure of controversial NCB Mumbai zonal director Sameer Wankhede with the federal anti-narcotics agency has ended and his services have been put at the disposal of his parent organisation DRI, officials said on Monday.

The charge of the NCB Mumbai zonal unit will be handled in an additional capacity by its Indore zonal director Brijendra Chowdhary, a 2009-batch IRS officer of the Customs and Indirect Taxes cadre.

Wankhede, an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer of the 2008 batch, was deputed to the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) Mumbai zone in August, 2020 “on loan” from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in the wake of the drugs probe being conducted by the agency linked to the death of 34-year-old actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

The 42-year-old officer served as the head or the zonal director of the NCB Mumbai unit beginning August 31, 2020 with an initial tenure of one year.

He was given a four months extension in the post beyond August, 2021.

Wankhede’s tenure with the NCB finally ended on December 31, 2021 and as there has been no government order for his extension, he has been sent back to his parent organisation DRI, officials said.

The DRI is an investigation agency under the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC).

Officials said the NCB did not seek the officer’s extension.

Wankhede has been in the limelight following the high-profile October, 2021 raids by the NCB on a Mumbai cruise after which the agency arrested Aryan Khan, the son of actor Shah Rukh Khan, and around 19 others and claimed to have seized some narcotics too.

Aryan Khan and many others arrested during these raids were later released on bail.

Soon after this action, Maharashtra minister and NCP leader Nawab Malik levelled multiple charges of alleged misconduct and corruption against the officer. Wankhede has denied the allegations, including a charge of forging his caste certificate.

The NCB, under Wankhede, had earlier arrested Malik’s son-in-law Sameer Khan in a narcotics case and the agency has recently moved the Bombay high court to cancel the bail given to the latter in this case.

Prabhakar Sail, an ‘independent’ witness in the cruise drugs case, had claimed and filed an affidavit that there was an extortion bid of Rs 25 crore by some agency officials, and others for letting off Aryan Khan from the case.

Sail had stated that he overheard that Rs 8 crore ‘bribe’ out of this money was to be paid to Wankhede.

Following these allegations, the agency headquarters here had removed Wankhede from the case apart from five others and had placed their investigation under a team led by its deputy director general (DDG) operations based in Delhi.

Another DDG (northern region) is conducting a vigilance probe into the allegations of extortion in the cruise drugs case.

Wankhede and his family had categorically denied these charges and said these allegations were made to deter the officer from taking strong action against drugs peddlers and syndicates operating in Mumbai.

(PTI)