Anti-drugs agency Narcotics Control Bureau, its image dented by the Aryan Khan controversy where only a small quantity of drugs were involved, has now decided to focus only on big cases, sources have told NDTV. The agency is likely to bring in a new policy, in which information related to recovery of small amounts of drugs will be passed on to the local police, sources said.
Sources said the agency will only handle cases linked to big syndicates, underworld narco terrorism and highly sensitive drugs. For this, the agency will augment its staff strength from the current 1,100 to 3,000.
The high profile drugs-on-cruise-ship case of October last year had made headlines owing to the arrest of Aryan Khan, the son of megastar Shah Rukh Khan and a few other Bollywood personalities.
But though the agency contended that it was after the international cartels routing drugs through them, the actual amount of drugs recovery had raised questions.
The agency also got singed as a debate started on whether Aryan Khan’s arrest and confinement in jail was justified, given that no drugs were found on him and there were no signs of use. Social media was flooded with messages of support, and many said the arrest was a witch-hunt.
As investigations progressed, the NCB officials, including its chief investigator, former Joint Director Sameer Wankhede, got embroiled in a bribery controversy.
Investigation started one of the witnesses in the case, Prabhakar Sail, filed an affidavit claiming that there was an extortion bid of Rs 25 crore by some NCB officials and others for letting off Aryan Khan.
Prabhakar Sail had claimed that he overheard that Rs 8 crore of this money was to be paid to Mr Wankhede.
Today, Mr Wankhede appeared before the Vigilance team investigating the of extortion. The team is interrogating the other two big investigating officers — former Investigating Officer VV Singh and Ashish Prasad.
Twenty people were arrested in the drugs-on-cruise case, all of whom, including Aryan Khan, are currently out on bail.
After the Aryan Khan case, the NCB has conducted two major operations in Gujarat, where a huge quantity of drugs were recovered. Officials say they busted a pan-India drugs syndicate, arresting 22 people from across the country.
Currently, the agency is working on three major operations apparently involving international drug cartels.