The Aryan Khan investigation has turned into a quagmire of shocking revelations, burning questions and plenty of mudslinging theories that continue to grab headlines on an hourly basis.
The past 48 hours have seen a whirlwind of information blown in, with names such as Sameer Wankhede, Prabhakar Sail and Kiran Gosavi being brandished about. Who exactly are these people and why are they relevant to the case that has seen Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s firstborn locked behind bars for close to three weeks? We try to separate fact from fiction with our cheat sheet into the Aryan case.
Remind us again why Aryan is behind bars even now and where does the case stand today?
Aryan was one of several people detained on the fateful night of October 2 after the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) ordered a drug bust aboard a Cordelia Cruises ship in Mumbai that was bound for Goa. According to court proceedings, Aryan’s lawyer has claimed that the 23-year-old was not on the boat itself but in the boarding lounge when he was rounded up.
His lawyer has also claimed in court that Aryan was arrested despite no drugs found on his person, while the NCB claims his friend Arbaaz Merchant hid six grams of charas (drugs) in his shoes and the actor’s son had the intent of using it. Aryan is currently locked in Arthur Road Central Jail and has been denied bail twice. His next bail hearing is scheduled for October 26 in Bombay High Court.
Who exactly is Sameer Wankhede?
Wankhede is a zonal officer with the NCB who is heading the drug investigation that resulted in Aryan’s arrest along with 19 others involved in the case. His personal life and accusations of extortion have now also become a matter of record in the press that has called his ethics into question.
Why is Wankhede in the eye of the storm?
A witness in the case, Prabhakar Sail, has alleged that he overheard a meeting between his employer KP Gosavi (another witness for the NCB, who was photographed in the viral selfie with Aryan following his arrest) and a person named Sam D’Souza earlier this month. Sail said in his court affidavit they spoke of a Rs25 crore or Rs250 million deal that was later reduced to Rs18 crores or Rs180 million, of which Rs8 crores (Rs80 million) would be given to Wankhede to have the charges dropped against Aryan.
All this was discussed in a 15-minute meeting that allegedly took place inside a car. Pooja Dadlani, the manager of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan (Aryan’s father), was also present, according to Sail. The witness has further claimed that he was made to sign 10 blank papers by the NCB and now fears for his life from Wankhede.
Has the NCB responded to the allegations?
NCB has categorically denied that the agency and Wankhede himself have been compromised and took kickbacks to let Aryan off. The NCB has now said Sail has turned ‘hostile’. The agency also filed an application to bar cognizance of the affidavit filed by Sail, who had claimed that he was made to sign blank sheets on the day of the raid on October 2. The application was denied by the court.
“Considering the nature of the relief claimed in the application, no such blanket orders can be passed. It is for the concerned court or authority to pass appropriate order at the relevant stage. Moreover, the matter is sub-judice before the Honourable High Court in bail applications in same FIR. Therefore, no such orders can be passed by the court as prayed. Hence, the application is filed and disposed of,” special judge V V Patil said.
Meanwhile, the NCB's Deputy Director-General Gyaneshwar Singh is expected to lead a probe into allegations against Wankhede.
Singh told NDTV he would not, at this stage, be drawn on commenting on the removal of Wankhede. "I cannot comment. We have started our investigation... will talk to witnesses," he said.
Where is Gosavi in all of this?
Gosavi, who is reportedly a private investigator and was already under the police scanner for other cases, has allegedly been absconding until he was tracked down by India Today where he denied Sail’s allegation of any such extortion deal happening. He also spoke of the viral picture with Aryan taken on October 2, saying that the star son asked him to call his father’s manager. “Aryan asked me to call his parents manager. He gave me Pooja’s number. I dialed her number, she didn’t take my call, so I had Aryan record a voice note and I sent that to Pooja,” he told India Today.
Have there been any other accusations against Wankhede?
Yes, there have been. Earlier this month, Nationalist Congress Party National Spokesperson and Minister Nawab Malik accused Wankhede of procedural lapses and irregularities after the NCB raided the cruise ship. He alleged that seven persons were detained that night, but only three were arrested. Why were the others let off the hook?
Malik also tweeted a personal document about Wankhede, which appears to be a form of sorts that lists his parents as non-Hindus.
Has Wankhede responded to this?
On October 25, Wankhede filed an affidavit with the special Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) court that is hearing the drugs-on-cruise case. The affidavit, which Wankhede filed in his personal capacity and is different from the second one that was filed by the NCB over extortion allegations against him came in direct response to Malik tweeting a document related to his birth.
“The publishing of my personal documents is defamatory in nature and an unnecessary invasion of my family privacy. It is intended to malign me, my family, my father, and my late mother,” Wankhede said in his court document, as reported by NDTV, adding that the minister’s actions had put his family under “tremendous mental and emotional pressure” and that he himself had been left “pained by the slanderous attacks”.
“... I have been personally targeted, especially by a known political figure, [since] one Sameer Khan, a relative of this honcho, was arrested in a drug case,” Wankhede added.
In his plea before the Sessions Court, Wankhede undertook to place on record material to show that he was “threatened to be arrested and dispelled from his service, and that there is a slew of attacks against him and his family”.
Isn’t Wankhede’s wife a Marathi actress?
Kranti Redkar Wankhede is in fact a public figure and has also taken to social media to deny Malik’s accusation that he isn’t Hindu. Kranti went so far as to post wedding pictures of the couple while adding in her tweet: “Me n my Husband Sameer r born Hindus.We hv never converted to any other religion.V respect all religions.Sameer’s father too is hindu married to my Muslim Mom in law who is no more.Sameer’s ex-marriage ws under special marriage act, divorced in 2016.Ours in hindu marriage act 2017 [sic].”
How is actress Ananya Panday involved in all of this?
The actress if BFF to Aryan’s sister Suhana Khan. Based on certain WhatsApp chats, the NCB has alleged that Panday helped Aryan procure drugs for consumption. Her home was raided by the authority and it has been alleged that her laptop and two mobile phones were seized. Following the raid, she was questioned twice by the NCB and was expected to return for a third day on October 25 but failed to show, citing personal commitments. It has been stated that fresh summons will be sent to the actress.
When is Aryan’s next bail hearing?
A Bombay High Court will hear his bail plea on October 26.
Has Bollywood rallied around Shah Rukh and Gauri Khan during this hour of need?
Yes and no. While several people have spoken out in support of Shah Rukh and Aryan, including Pooja Bhatt, Hrithik Roshan, his ex-wife Sussanne Khan, Pooja Bedi, Raveena Tandon and Hansal Mehta, the bigwigs from Bollywood have largely remained silent on the issue. In fact, this silence has resulted in a barb issued by filmmaker Sanjay Gupta on October 25 who took to Twitter to write: “Shahrukh Khan has and continues to give jobs and livelihoods to thousands in the film industry. He has always stood up for every cause for the film industry. And the astute silence of the same film industry in his moment of crisis is nothing short of SHAMEFUL.”
The tweet also got a response out of singer Mika Singh as well who has defended Aryan on social media in the past. “You are absolutely right brother, they all are watching the drama and cannot say even a single word. I’m with @iamsrk. #AryanKhan should be given bail. I think industry mein sabke bache ek baar andar jaayenge, tab jaake yeh unity dikhanyenge [I think they will only show unity once all star kids are thrown behind bars],” Singh tweeted.
Have either Shah Rukh and/or Gauri issued any statement following the arrest of their son?
No, they haven’t. The only inclination from their family was daughter Suhana Khan liking Hrithik Roshan’s Instagram post where he stood up for Aryan.