Is Bollywood a soft target for the NCB?
The NCB has claimed that Aryan Khan's WhatsApp chats reveal his involvement with a nexus of illicit International drug groups.Author : A. Gayatri
Darker clouds don't seem to fade away from Bollywood as superstar son Aryan Khan is not getting any relief in the high-class Mumbai cruise drug bust case.
The Narcotics Control Bureau of Investigation on October 2 busted a rave party that happened on Mumbai's off-shore. Aryan Khan, who is actor Shah Rukh Khan's son, was arrested along with 8 other people.
One amongst the arrested is Arbaaz Merchant who is Aryan's close friend and has accepted to consuming drugs.
It's nearly three weeks since Aryan Khan was arrested and NCB on every hearing finds a way to extend his custody. Although no drugs were found on Aryan, he knew that the presence of six grams of charas his friend Arbaaz Merchant hid in his shoe, noted the court, saying this amounted to "conscious possession".
Denying bail to Aryan on Wednesday, the court noted that the material placed on the record indicates a nexus operating between Aryan Khan and suppliers and peddlers.
The NCB has claimed that Aryan Khan's WhatsApp chats reveal him being involved with a nexus of illicit International drug groups.
Meanwhile, the NCB team landed at actor Chunky Pandey’s house and his actor-daughter Ananya Pandey was summoned to the NCB’s office. Her mobile phone has been seized and will be questioned about the WhatsApp chats exchanged between her and Aryan in connection to the drug case.
Against the backdrop of the NCB chasing Bollywood celebrities and implicating most of them, the probing agency has been accused by the Opposition and people that they are intentionally targeting the Hindi film industry.
However, the NCB Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede said that the agency is not after film celebrities. He came to the limelight after Sushant Singh Rajput committed suicide and his case was transferred to the CBI after the Mumbai police could not resolve his death mystery. Later, when it was said that Sushant was a drug user, NCB came into the picture.
He arrested actor Rhea Chakraborty and her brother, Showik Chakraborty and summoned several top actors like Deepika Padukone, Sharadha Kapoor, Sara Ali Khan, Dia Mirza, Arjun Rampal for interrogation. No evidence with a link to any drug peddler or groups could be found on them.
Sameer Wankhede has clearly stated that he is performing his duties and wants to eradicate the drug menace from Mumbai and has made several arrests in the case.
He blames that it is the media that painted the narrative that it is the agency that is after Bollywood. There are 105 cases in 10 months but people only talk about the ones that involve a celebrity. Celebrity cases are just a handful, the NCB had seized illegal substances worth Rs 150 crores this year, but nobody speaks about it, he said.
He further said that the agency had busted a Nigerian drug cartel and one of his staff members got severe injuries while fighting the same, but no media made a cry about it.
Media exaggerate only those cases that involve a known face, he said, adding that the officer's efforts are never appreciated but are blamed for targeting celebrities.
People’s perception changes when big names get dragged in drug-related cases, he had said.
However, he had also accused the general public of being only interested in glamorous cases. “Do you realise the sheer magnitude of the volume of violations? Why are people not talking about the other cases that we crack down on to eradicate the drug menace? Nobody is interested in reporting the ‘unglamorous’ cases or even discussing the regular cases. Why?” he questioned.
Though a large portion of the film industry is muted on the drug cases, there are a few who are saying that the agency is dragging Bollywood unnecessarily.
But can there be any reason for the selective target of film stars and their kids? No doubt public outrage and pressure after Sushant’s suicide had compelled the government to take action on multiple angles including drugs. But how Adani's Gujarat Mundra port where around 3000 kgs of Afghan drugs was seized has not made a huge headline like Aryan Khan's case.
Also Read: Aryan Khan drug case: Did NCB officials actually raid Shah Rukh Khan's ‘Mannat’ Mansion? Deets Inside
With oppositions calling out the centre in broad daylight for the misuse of national investigative agencies like CBI, IT, ED and NCB to further BJP's political agendas, it might not be a surprise if the same is being done in the case of drugs misuse in Bollywood.
With Bollywood being the centre of the limelight in the country it is an easy target used to distract the public at large from the issue of ever-rising prices of commodities from fuel, LPG to daily ration.
Since Shiv Sena led government has come to power in Maharashtra by defeating BJP, both the parties have been at a tussle to claim authority in the state. This move of the NCB on Bollywood can be seen as an 'arm-twist', which is one of the biggest tax revenue earners for the Maharashtra government.
Moreover, the film and creative industry have always been an easy target. From banning, scenes chopping, celebrity behaviour under scrutiny and a public apology on speaking their mind.
Views expressed are personal.