8 arrested in cruise drug bust; SRK’s son ‘consumed charas’

MUMBAI: The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Sunday arrested Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan’s 23-year-old son Aryan and seven others following a raid at a party held on a Goa-bound cruise liner Saturday night. Khan has been booked for consumption of charas.

 

Of the eight arrested, Khan, his friend and film actor Arbaz Merchant, and Munmun Dhamecha were produced in court and remanded in NCB custody till Monday. Dhamecha is said to be the daughter of a businessman from Madhya Pradesh, and Merchant the son of a timber businessman.

Five others—Nupur Satija, Ishmeet Chadha, Mohak Jaiswal, Gomit Chopra and Vikrant Chhokar—were arrested late on Sunday; they will be produced in court on Monday.
The cruise liner, Cordelia Cruises, carrying 800-1,000 passengers, left from Mumbai after around a dozen people were detained by the NCB on Saturday night and around 200 decided not to go ahead with the trip. It will return to the city on Monday morning. NCB officials said they are carrying out further raids in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.

The NCB claimed to have seized 13gm of cocaine, 21gm of charas, 22 pills of MDMA and 5gm of mephedrone and more than Rs 1.3 lakh cash. In the remand application seeking custody of Khan, Merchant and Dhamecha, the agency said that the trio was arrested for consumption, sale and purchase of contraband punishable under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985. An official however, said that Khan has been booked only for consumption under Section 27 of the NDPS Act, which attracts a maximum punishment of one year or with fine which may extend to Rs 20,000

Aryan apologetic

The cruise liner, Cordelia Cruises, which had 800-1,000 passengers — mostly from north India — left from Mumbai after around a dozen people were detained by the NCB on Saturday night and around 200 decided not to go ahead with the trip. It will return to the city on Monday morning. NCB officials said they are carrying out further raids in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.

The NCB claimed to have seized 13gm of cocaine, 21gm of charas, 22 pills of MDMA and 5gm of mephedrone and more than Rs 1.3 lakh in cash. In the remand application seeking custody of Khan, Merchant and Dhamecha, the agency said the trio was arrested for consumption, sale and purchase of contraband under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985. An official however, said that Khan has been booked only for consumption under Section 27 of the NDPS Act, which attracts a maximum punishment of one year or with fine which may extend to Rs 20,000.

Khan, Merchant and Dhamecha were picked up late Saturday and were questioned at the NCB office at Ballard Pier in south Mumbai. “Khan was apologetic when we asked him to accompany us to the NCB office,” an official said.

They were taken for medical examination at JJ Hospital at 4pm on Sunday. Khan was wearing a black T-shirt and cap and wore a face mask. They were brought back to the NCB office within 40 minutes and produced before a holiday court at 7pm. NCB officials said that they did not recover any contraband from Khan, but found a small quantity of charas in Merchant’s shoes. The duo was sharing a room in the cruise liner, the NCB said.

The remand application submitted in the court stated that the NCB has found WhatsApp chats “clearly showing the nexus of those arrested with suppliers and peddlers on a regular basis”. NCB counsel Advait Sethna argued for their custody, while Satish Maneshinde said police remand for a bailable offence would be unfair.

Khan and Merchant were given free entry on the cruise liner and the organisers hoped to capitalise on the former’s celebrity quotient for furthering their business interests, an official said. There were six organisers for the voyage who had charged anything from Rs 60,000 to Rs 3 lakh for a ticket. “The late entrants were charged more. The cruise ship was almost packed and there were around 1,300 people who had booked. Most of them were from north India,” an official said. “The Austrian owner of the ship has been summoned,” said an NCB officer.

Officials said they had been working on the information that drugs would be consumed and raided the cruise liner, Cordelia Cruises. “We have been working on it for the past 15 days. We visited the international cruise terminal, posed as passengers and while entering the ship we disclosed our identity to the private security guards,” an official said.

The NCB said that in the rooms, they found material to facilitate consumption of drugs like ready-to-roll joints, paper and the like. “Hence, we need to establish if the organisers were not aware about the drugs consumption,” an official said.

Jurgen Bailom, CEO and president, Waterways Leisure Tourism Pvt Ltd, in a statement, said, “I wish to express that Cordelia Cruises is in no way, directly or indirectly, connected to this incident. This incident is contrarian and far from the culture that Cordelia Cruises represents. We, at Cordelia Cruises, condemn all acts such as these and will strictly refrain from letting our ship out for similar events in the future. Nonetheless, Cordelia Cruises is extending our support and cooperating with authorities”.

 

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