5 more arrests in ship drug raid case: Probing links to explore nexus; ship operating without licence, says NCB

The four members of the event management company – Gopal Jee Anand, Samir Seghal, Manav Singhal and Bhaskar Arora – will be produced before the court on Wednesday, an officer said.

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Tuesday arrested five more persons in connection with the cruise ship drug raid, taking the total number of arrests in the case to 16.

Those arrested on Tuesday included four persons from an event management company that had organised the party and one passenger who had allegedly consumed drugs while the ship was at sea.

Four persons, three of whom were arrested on Monday night, were produced before the court on Tuesday.

The four members of the event management company – Gopal Jee Anand, Samir Seghal, Manav Singhal and Bhaskar Arora – will be produced before the court on Wednesday, an officer said. The officer added that the four have been arrested on charges of harbouring drug users on the ship and allowing its premises to be used for consuming narcotics. “They have been charged under sections 25 and 27A of the NDPS Act.”

Earlier in the day, while seeking custody of the four other accused before the court, the NCB claimed that it had arrested the suppliers linked to the cruise ship drug raid.

The central agency produced Abdul Kadar Shaikh (30) and Shreyas Nair (23) before the court, claiming that they had supplied the contraband seized on the ship. While Shaikh was arrested on Monday with 54.3 gm of mephedrone – categorised as commercial quantity – and 2.5 gm of ecstasy – categorised as intermediate quantity – Nair was arrested with 2 gm of charas, categorised as small quantity.

The NCB claimed that it had arrested Shaikh on the basis of information provided by earlier arrested accused Mohak Jaswal while Nair was arrested on the basis of co-accused Ishmeet Singh Chadha’s custodial interrogation.

Odisha residents Manish Rajgaria (30) and Avin Sahu (30) were the other two accused produced before the court. They were guests on the cruise ship. While Rajgaria was arrested with 2.4 gm of ganja, no drugs were found on Sahu. NCB counsel Advait Sethna told the court that investigation has revealed that Sahu consumed ganja twice on the ship.

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After the NCB raided the ship on Saturday, leading to the detention of eight persons, including Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan, the ship had sailed away for its two-day journey in the Arabian Sea. The NCB arrested the two guests after they returned to Mumbai on Monday.

At the beginning of the arguments seeking an in-camera hearing, Sethna told the court that the case has become like Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes novels, where “everyday there are new twists and turns”.

“We are examining further linkages to explore the nexus in the case. Two of the accused (Shaikh and Nair) are suppliers of the contraband seized on the cruise. It is also being probed that the cruise ship had several irregularities, it was operating without licence and approval from the Directorate General of Shipping,” Sethna told the court.

Lawyer Apoorv Srivastava, representing Shaikh, said that his client was being made a “scapegoat”. “…being made a scapegoat to cover all big faces. Mohak Jaswal (based on whose interrogation Shaikh was arrested as per the NCB) is not related to me, I have not met him, I have no idea why it is being claimed that he took my name in his statement,” the lawyer argued on behalf of Shaikh.

Before the hearing, the NCB counsel sought that Shaikh’s remand plea be heard separately in in-camera proceedings. Sethna told the court that the agency wanted “to minimise the exposure of the accused” to protect his identity.

Additional Metropolitan Magistrate R M Nerlikar rejected NCB’s plea. The court said that the hearing was taking place in an open court and NCB could argue without revealing secret information about its probe. Shaikh was asked to step into the court without his face being revealed.

Lawyers for the two Odisha residents, Himanshu Jahangid and Akshada Pasi, said that a small quantity was seized from one of them, while no drugs were found on Sahu. The court said that since detailed investigation is necessary, the NCB should be granted opportunity for custodial interrogation of the accused. The four were sent to NCB custody till October 11.

Meanwhile, the Mumbai Police on Tuesday said that it has started a probe into the cruise ship case. The police said it had received no written letter seeking permission for a party on the cruise ship. Officers said that they will speak to DG (Shipping) and Mumbai Port Trust on whether any permission was granted for the party onboard the cruise liner.

 

 

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