In a significant development, the Narcotics Control Bureau's controversial Mumbai Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede has been moved from the investigations into the sensational cruise ship party raid of October 2 in which Aryan Khan, son of Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan, was arrested.
However, questioned by media persons, Wankhede denied that he had been shifted from the case.
Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik said that Wankhede has been removed from a total of five cases, including the Cordelia Cruise case.
"This is just the beginning. A lot more has to be done to clean this system and we will do it," he asserted, adding that there are a total 26 cases that need to be probed.
According to available indications, the five cases from which Wankhede has been rendered persona non-grata shall be probed by a new team to be headed by a senior NCB officer who will be deputed from New Delhi.
Wankhede has been under a cloud for a variety of reasons including allegations of corruption, fake caste certificate, a lavish lifestyle, and targeting high-profile individuals, especially from Bollywood and glamour industry with comparatively insignificant drug seizures, etc.
Malik and Wankhede have been engaged in an unprecedented war of words for the past one month, with the NCP leader making a series of shocking exposes on the NCB Mumbai head, besides an affidavit by a witness accusing him of extortion, allegations of Bharatiya Janata Party politicians and wanted criminals being roped in during the ship raid, etc.
The embattled Wankhede has been running from pillar to post to politicians to statutory panels to the courts seeking protection from action against him, and has been recently given relief in the form of 3 working days' notice in case of arrest by the police.
On the raid on an alleged rave party aboard the Cordelia Cruise ship, Wankhede had made a big catch of Aryan Khan and seven others, and later another 12 were arrested in the case which has hogged national attention for a month.